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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    July 14, 2011
    12:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

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the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: ask consent the quorum call be dispensed with and consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, this morning's "wall street journal" has a headline that i hope america will pay close attention to. raiders put u.s. on notice. the united states of america has a credit rating, much as we do as individuals, businesses do and families, and a credit rating in the united states is aaa, the very best. at does it mean? those who do business in america think it's best to do business. reliable economy, the rule of law, transparency, it says good things about america and it translates into the lowest
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interest rates charged when america borrows money, and that's a good thing because we borrow a lot of money. this triple-a rating is something that is not guaranteed. you have to work for it. countries around the world now, particularly in europe, are struggling and failing economically. some in worse shape than others. in in the "irish times" yesterday they referred to what they called the pigs. i've never seen that term before. it refers to portugal, ireland, greece and spain, and they said this week that italy was joining the "pigs," the seventh largest economy in the world, royaling in euro debt, being called on to transform and change their economies and their government to deal with their national de debt. it's a tough time in the european union and the jury is still out about any one of those countries and how this will end. the united states is not in that situation, thank goodness.
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our country has its problems, we know that. 9.2% of our work force unemployed, a situation where many small businesses are still struggling, where families struggle, many of them paycheck to paycheck to get by. but still the fact that we have to guard our borders to keep people from coming here is an indication of what america's promise means to the rest of the world. this notice from the rating agencies that now we are on a watch, a credit watch, as to whether our aaa credit rating in america should be diminished is serious. secretary of treasury tim geithner meets with us when we go down to the white house to talk about the current negotiation over the debt ceiling. what he told us yesterday was that this rating is the product of two things. first, there is no clear path available to indicate that congress is able to extend the debt ceiling of the united
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states on august 2. and, secondly, there is no clear indication that congress and the president are really working together to deal with our national deficit. because of that, secretary geithner said this rating has come out and that is the reality of what we face. first, a word about the debt ceiling. what is it? most people don't know, and it's understandable, because it doesn't get much attention, although it's been around a long time. the debt ceiling was created in 1939. it was created because congress decided that they didn't want to vote every time we issued a national bond or some other no note. we would rather give to our department of treasury the authority to issue debt obligations up to a certain dollar level. and as the debt of the united states increased and the need to borrow increased, that level increased as well. between 1939 and today, we've
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extended the debt ceiling in america 89 times. 55 times under republican presidents, 34 times under democratic presidents, and virtually without notice. who is the number-one president in the history of the united states to extend the debt ceiling and to increase america's debt? ronald reagan. far and away. did it 18 times. and during the course of his eight years in office, raised the national debt ceiling by 199%. then you go to the next president who raised it 90% in debt, president george w. bush. so it's a bipartisan undertaking, and what it means is that, when needed, the congress of the united states authorizes the president to borrow the money necessary to cover what we have spent in appropriations from congress, in our entitlement and mandatory
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programs -- social security, medicare and the like -- we have to borrow money. in fact, we borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend in washington, for everything. 40 cents for every dollar. so we are looking to people to loan us money on a regular bas basis. the number-one creditor of the united states among countries is china. ironic. our number-one creditor, our number-one competitor, an interesting relationship. so now the debt ceiling comes due august 2. and as it has been routinely extended time and time again, this time is different. the house republican leadership has said, we refuse to vote to extend the debt ceiling of the united states unless we see deficit reduction. what would happen if we didn't extend the debt ceiling? well, what would happen if you didn't make your mortgage payment? i think i know what would happen to loretta and me in springfield, illinois. we might hear from our bank, and our bank might say, "ah,
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mr. durbin, you know, the month of july has come and gone and you didn't pay your mortgage on your home in springfield. what's up?" and if you said, "i'm just not going to pay it this month." they would say, "that isn't what you signed up for. you signed up to meet your obligation. so if you don't pay it, you face foreclosure." but in the meantime, what you have done, what my family would have done under those circumstances, is to jeopardize our credit rating. the next time my family would want to borrow money for a home, the bank would say, not sure you're such a good risk, you missed your mortgage payment. or if they loaned us money, it would be at a higher interest rate. so that is the reality of what happens if you don't extend the debt ceiling. this situation, when it comes to america, is grave. it isn't just about america paying a higher interest rate to borrow money. it's about the interest rate across our country being affected. down at the federal reserve, ben
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bernanke and the federal reserve board of governors is doing everything in its power to keep interest rates low because we want businesses to expand, to be profitable and to hire people. when interest rate costs go up, businesses find it more expensive to borrow and borrow less. individual families find it more difficult to buy the car, the home, the appliances that they might need. so with interest rates going up as a result of our failure to extend the debt ceiling, we're doing exactly the opposite of what the american economy needs today. that's why it's so serious. in fact, could be catastrophic. just a few minutes we're going to have the treasury secretary, tim geithner, who's going to come before us and talk about the impact of failure to extend the debt ceiling. i've been asked to do a little homework here so, madam president, i ask that the record reflect this request at the end of my remarks. ask consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that at 12:20 p.m., the senate proceed to the consideration of h.r.
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2055, the military constructio construction-veterans affairs and related agencies appropriation bill. further, that following the opening remarks of the two managers of the bill, senator sessions be recognized to raise a 303c budget act point of order, that senator johnson be recognized to waive the applicable portions of the budget act and that there be four hours of debate equally divided between senators johnson and sessions or their designee prior to a vote on cloture on the motion to waive. provided further, that if cloture is invoked, the senate immediately proceed to a vote on the motion to waive with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: madam president, resuming my remarks. that means i have eight minutes and i may not use all of them. what we're doing in the white house today is negotiating with leaders in congress, democrats and republicans, and the president to extend the debt ceiling because many of us believe it would be disastrous if we would default on our debt.
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we'd call into question the full faith and credit of the united states of america and at the end of the day find ourselves with a self-inflicted wound to the american economy, raising interest rates, and making it more difficult to come out of this recession. we're trying to reach an agreemenanagreement and it's bed going. we've had five face-to-face meetings. it's been reported in the news that it's been contentious and it is. the president believes it is in our interest to get americans back to work. we should not do anything in the course of our business that would make that more difficult. i couldn't agree with him more. the highest priority in america is putting americans back to work in good-paying jobs right here at home. the highest priority in america is allowing small businesses to expand to, do more business and hire more people. that's what we ought to be about. if we fail to extend the debt ceiling, it makes it more difficult to reach those goals. i listen as presidential
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candidates of the other party in iowa say it doesn't matter. default on the debt. let's see what happens. that is the most -- let me think of a good word here -- naive comment on our economy that i can imagine. and the people who are making it have no business aspiring to the highest office in the land. we need to accept this responsibility and deal with this debt ceiling honestly. we need to extend it so there's no question about the credit rating and full faith and credit of the united states of america. and secondly, we need to get serious about this deficit. madam president, i know you have strong personal feelings. you introduced legislation dealing with this deficit and how we can cope with it here in the senate and in the house. i've been part of the president's deficit commission. i've been engaged with colleagues of both political parties on how to take it further. our goal is very simply stated.
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i believe, and those who are engaged in these conversations believe, we can reduce the debt of the united states of america by up to $4 trillion over the next ten years. we can do it in a sensible, thoughtful way, with shared sacrifice across america. we need to put everything -- underline the word "everything" -- on the table. spend programs start. that's the start. we go to them and route out what we consider to be wasteful, unnecessary, fraudulent and abusive practices in our spending, whether it's in the department of defense or in any other agency of government. when the department of defense came before the bowles-simpson commission, we asked them how many private contractors worked for the department of defense, and their answer was, "we have no idea." give us a range, we said. the range is somewhere between one million and nine million people working for the department of defense, maybe.
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that's unacceptable. we can do better. our brave men and women in uniform deserve better and the taxpayers deserve better. so we put all spending on the table. reducing spending where we can, where we must to move toward $4 trillion in deficit reduction. then we put entitlement programs on the table, and this is where many democrats get nervous because you're talking about things that mean a lot to us: social security and medicare and medicaid, for example. i am as committed to those programs as any member of the senate. and i believe that we can protect the basic benefits under those programs and still find ways to make them stronger and longer. social security untouched will make every promised payment with cost-of-living adjustments for the next 25 years. you can't say that about much in washington. you can't say it about any program in washington other than social security. but we can do better by making minor, small changes in social security today and putting the savings back in social security,
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we can say that it will last for 75 years, which means everybody going to the workplace, starting their work career in america will know you can count on social security to be there when you need it. that, i think, is an attainable goal. and if we face it honestly, we can do it. when i got elected in 1982, came to office in 1983, we were facing bankruptcy in social security. we came together with a bipartisan approach and we passed it, and we bought literally 52 years of solvency for social security. not a single member of congress lost the next election because we did it in a bipartisan fashion, determined to make social security stronger. we can do it again. medicare, same story. medicare, which of course provides health care for the elderly and disabled in america, is extremely expensive because health care costs keep going up. are there ways for us to reduce the cost of medicare so that the people who are deserving of care, the seniors and disabled, will have it available to them?
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madam president, on january 1 of this year, 9,000 americans turned the age of 65. on january 2, another 9 thousand,000 and every day since, and every day for the next 19 years. the boomers have arrived, and they paid into medicare and social security their entire lives and they expect america to keep its promise, and we will. but we can take a look at medicare and find ways to make that program more cost efficient. there are certainly ways that are obvious. under the medicare prescription drug program, we currently don't have a medicare option. all we have are private health insurance company oplgss. let medicare bargain with pharmaceutical companies, bring down by buying in bulk and quantity the cost of drugs for seniors across america, thus, reducing their cost out of pocket and our cost as taxpayers. the pharmaceutical industry hates that like the devil hates holy water. but the fact is when you put medicare in there, like the veterans administration is in there, it can make a difference. there are ways for us to move
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forward, and we need to move forward to include spending entitlements and revenue. i hope we can do this on a bipartisan basis, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate will proceed to the consideration of h.r. 205 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 91, h.r. 2055, an act making appropriations for military construction, the department of veterans affairs and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2012, and for other purposes. mr. durbin: madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. johnson: i move to terminate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: mr. president, i'm pleased to present the fiscal year 2012 military construction, v.a. and related agencies appropriations bill to the senate. this bill was unanimously reported out of the committee on june 30. it is a disciplined and bipartisan measure and i hope all senators will support it. i thank my ranking member, senator kirk, for his contributions in crafting this bill. he has taken a very active role on the subcommittee and it has been a pleasure to work with h
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him. i also thank senator -- chairman inouye and vice chairman cochran, as well as leader reid and minority leader mcconnell for their support and assistance in moving this bill forward. the milcon-v.a. appropriations bill provides crucial investments in infrastructure for our military, including barracks and family housing, mission critical training, and operational facilities, schools and hospitals, and child-care and support centers. it also fulfills the nation's promise to our vets by providing the resources needed for their medical care and benefits. mr. president, the bill before the senate today totals $142 billion, of which $2.5 billion -- $72.5 billion is
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discretionary spending. we're all mindful of the severe economic problems facing this nation and this bill reflects that reality. it is $1.25 billion below the budget request and is $618 million below the fy 2011 enacted level. i can assure my colleagues that there are no congressional earmarks in the bill. as always, protecting essential services for vets tops my list of priorities. with an aging population of vets requiring increased services and a surge of combat vets from the iraq and afghanistan wars entering the system, the demand for v.a. health care services has increased dramatically in recent years. this bill provides $58.6 billion for v.a. discretionary funding,
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$2.3 billion over current funding. the bill also includes $52.5 billion in fy 2013 advanced appropriations for vets' medical care. one of the very few areas in which this bill provides an increase in funding is v.a. medical research, which is $72 million over the budget request to restore funding to the current level. with little room to maneuver on the v.a. side of the ledger, the vast majority of the savings in the bill comes from incrementing or defunding certain military construction projects. the bill provides $13.7 billion for military construction, $1 billion below the request. the milcon reductions in the bill are restricted to the
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active-duty components. the guard and reserve components, family housing, barrack and other accounts are fully funded at the president's request. every military construction project funded in this bill is authorized in the senate defense authorization bill, which was unanimously reported out of the senate armed services committee on june 16. in fact, if you do the math, 52 senators in this chamber have already voted in favor of the milcon portion of this bill. in addition to milcon and the v.a., the bill provides $221 million for several related agencies, including arlington national cemetary and the american battle monuments commission. mr. president, i will submit a more detailed statement for the record but i again thank my
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ranking member for his support in crafting this bill. i also thank the staff of the subcommittee, christina evans, chad socum, and eddie van lindingham on my staff, dennis balkam and diane detry on the minority staff and former minority staffer ben hammond for their months of hard work and cooperative effort to produce this bill. again, this is a well-balanced and bipartisan bill. it addresses resources violates to thresources vital toour trood to the millions of vets who have served and sacrificed for the nation. mr. president, i ask that the full text of my remarks be included in the record as if read, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kirk: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. kirk: madam president, i first came to capitol hill in 1984 during ronald reagan's
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first term. i believe it was chairman hatfield running the committee on the senate side and jamie witten on the house side. i care very much about the appropriations process and the appropriations committee because i think we spend less with a higher degree of transparency when we consider appropriations bills in regular order, as this one now is. this bill funds our veterans programs and our military construction needs mainly for the active duty and reserve americans who wear the uniform or wore the uniform, upon which all of our freedoms and the independence of our country depends. today there are over 20 million veterans and this bill cares for them in a bipartisan way. we owe these veterans just about everything for our independence
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and freedom and this bill cares for them. now, why in this difficult and partisan time is this bill coming up in this way? and why is it that we have every republican on the subcommittee and the full committee in favor of this legislation? it's because the chairman made the decision that i strongly supported to mark to the house level. and when we marked to the house level, we opened the door for a full bipartisan support for this needed bill. we present to the senate this bill for full consideration, taking into account all of the requests of members in their budget submission. but let me emphasize, not only are we slightly below the house spending level in discretionary budget authority, but there are no earmarks in this bill, reflecting the new wave of reform that has come to the appropriations committee, both
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house and senate. now, we have made a tough set of spending decisions in this bill. we have come in $1.2 billion below president obama's spending request. we came in $620 million below last year's level. and i was a bit surprised that we were able to do this, and we could, we are even $2.6 million below the house republican approved level and the bill put together by chairman culverson. now, this bill spends in discretionary budget authority less than the house of representatives, and i will just point out that when the house took up this legislation, over 400 members of the house of representatives, republicans and democrats, supported this legislation and only five members of the house voted
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against this legislation. that's why this legislation enjoys such tremendous bipartisan support on our side. now, this bill would not be possible without the outstanding work of chairman johnson and his staff. his military experience, most importantly his son's military experience -- and on behalf of the veterans of his state he has done a very good job with my full support. we take care of our veterans and their benefits, their health care, the construction of medical facilities in this legislation. mr. president, many -- madam president, many veterans live in urban areas but also a great many live in rural and even highly rural areas, and this bill pays attention to their needs thanks to the chairman and also i want to highlight the work of the senator from alaska, lisa murkowski, in the decisions we made in this bill to make sure that veterans who live in the state of alaska, may not in many
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cases now need to leave the state for their veterans care. we have also worked diligently with our veterans service organizations, and i would highlight that this bill has now been endorsed by the veterans of foreign wars, by amvets, by the paralyzed veterans of america, the disabled american veterans, and the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. i take the last endorsement very closely, having as a reservist served in afghanistan myself. now, chairman johnson highlighted the funding levels in this bill, which i think are quite important. i would also like to highlight several policy issues in this bill. number one, originally the administration, our commander in south korea, put forward an idea to bring almost 50,000 american dependents to south korea to build homes and hospitals and
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schools, but the cost could be upwards of over $20 billion to transfer this many americans to the korean peninsula. given the time of deficits and debt, given this enormous bill, i think d.o.d. is rethinking this proposal, as they wisely should, and i think this bill lays out a set of concerns over where we go with such a spending decision. with regard to guantanamo, very important to me, originally there was a proposal to transfer the al qaeda core of terrorists to my state, to thompson, illinois. this bill wisely concludes the overwhelmingly provision prohibiting construction or renovation of any facility in the united states or its territories for individuals detained at guantanamo bay. with regard to guam, while the navy is attempting to move more
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than 17,000 marines and their families from okinawa to guam, the plan that chairman johnson and i have seen has serious problems and, therefore, there are no projects in this bill associated with this very complicated move. we did fund the air force request for projects related to the strike capability for the beddown of strike and intelligence capabilities, but the rest we are looking for further information on. also with regard to our military infrastructure in germany, we believe there is a better need for accounting and funds and that we provide for facilities. as a result, we cut about $37 million from requested projects. with regard to charter schools, improving education for our military families, the children of service members, we think, have a unique situation and fewer choices when choosing schools, and so we've asked the
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department of defense to conduct a study and tell this committee where charter schools could make a positive difference. i will highlight here my work with my fellow senator, senator durbin, or potential charter school operations serving the men and women and the families of the great lakes community in northern illinois. i raised the one particular issue important to me, which is that over time we are planning on spending upwards of $20 billion, as we should, on a new facilities for guam. but i think that if we are going to make that kind of investment in guam, we need to make sure that those facilities are there when the united states needs them most in a military capacity, which is during combat. that's why it's so essential to provide also for the missile defense of guam. i would say for the missile defense of guam on platforms that cannot be sunk. and that's why we are calling on
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the department of defense not to ignore plans, to provide for the missile defense of guam, and i would say to emphasize, a land-based solution that's more survivable. we also highlighted more scrutiny on the budget request, especially with regard to funding for general officers quarters. i will say that in my review, along with the chairman, we saw a disciplined budget request largely by the air force and the navy to house our air force generals and admirals, but i've been disappointed with the army that originally came forward with a request for $1.4 million to upgrade a general's garden in germany. luckily the army has pulled back that request, and we're looking for further scrutiny to make sure that general officer quarters budget requests are in line with the practice and the sister services of the air force and the navy. this bill also handles issues
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with regard to the v.a., especially on information technology, and this bill fully funds the account and encourages the department to pursue open-source, off-the-shelf technology for electronic health records, and i think that's critical to maintaining cost containment as we go forward. i will also say that we have been urging the department of defense and veterans affairs to come up with one common electronic medical record. division here is that when an american joins the u.s. military that that record then follows that service member through, at minimum, for example, a three-year enlistment, and then a 60- to 90-year time as a veteran. it should be a common record, and i hope the two secretaries, panetta and shinseki move to make sure that becomes a reality. with regard to the contingency fund in this bill, the
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department requested at the v.a. a contingency fund in the event that they needed additional funds. we do not support establishing this fund but did allow the department to keep $664 million that it received last year in advance of appropriations for now prohibited pay raises. this should be adequate to ensure our veterans are not only cared for but will give the v.a. some flexibility during a period of conflict in iraq and afghanistan. this bill also emphasizes caregivers who give care to our wounded veterans, veterans who live in rural areas, and veterans who are sent to facilities a long distance from their home, as i mentioned, in the state of alaska. we also highlighted the issue of claims processing so that our veterans can finally receive the compensation they deserve in a reasonable amount of time. i want to echo the chairman's thanks to the staff, especially led by tina evans on the democratic side and dennis
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balkam on the republican side. in short, this is a very good bill. it represents the senate moving forward on the regular order. it represents greater transparency to the appropriations process. and i would just like to highlight we have cut or reduced funding in 24 separate major areas, and these were hard choices to make. and we did them in line with the decisions made by the authorizing committee under chairman levin and mccain's leadership. we detphaoeuld funding for a proposed brand-new build to house the court of veterans appeals. but in this time of deficit and debt, i think we should hold off. in sum, this bill represents cooperation between republicans and democrats. this bill represents budget control and cooperation between house and senate. this bill represents cooperation and coordination between the
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authorizing armed services committee and the appropriations committee. and this bill underlined with the endorsement of major veterans service organizations represents a commitment to our veterans. i think we should move forward. i know later we will consider a point of order with regard to not taking up a bill prior to the adoption of a formal budget. i would hope that common sense would prevail here. that because this is one of those rare measures where we're marking up to the house level that only five members of the house voted against this bill at that level, that all of the republicans and all of the voted in overwhelming bipartisan fashion for cloture to bring this bill up, that we can get the senate moving again, that we can get the appropriations process moving again, that we can stand by our men and women in uniform that need these facilities, and our veterans. and that, yes, we can control
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spending in full agreement with the house of representatives but still move the senate forward. and, madam president, with that, i yield back my time. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: madam president, i thank my colleagues for their excellent presentation. they are excellent senators. and from all that appears, have produced a piece of legislation that is -- will be positive for our country. but the pending measure, h.r. 2055, an act making appropriations for military construction, the department of veterans affairs and related agencies, offered by senator -- by the senators would appropriate federal funds for the year 2012. however, the senate has not yet adopted a concurrent budget
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resolution for 2012, and there is no 302-a allocation in place for that fiscal year. section 303-c of the congressional budget act prohibits consideration of any appropriations bill until a concurrent resolution on the budget has been agreed to and an allocation has been made to the committee on appropriations for fy 2012 or any subsequent year. therefore, i raise a point of order against this measure pursuant to section 303 of the congressional budget act. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. johnson: pursuant to section 904 of the congressional budget act of 1974, i move to
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waive the concurrent order under section 303 of that act for h.r. 2055 and any amendments thereto and motions thereon. mr. sessions: madam president, i would object to that and would like -- and would debate the issue. i just would say i make this motion for a very important reason, that's not directly related to the quality of the work of senator johnson and senator kirk in producing this bill, but a very important question concerning the budget of the united states. so i have the floor. i would be prepared to talk on that. if my colleagues wanted to talk right now, maybe we could reach an agreement. all right. very good.
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madam president, we have in the united states code a budget act. it requires us to proceed in an orderly fashion. the budget act says you shouldn't be spending money, appropriating bills until you have a budget. that's pretty simple. that's pretty common-sensical and it is the correct way to do business. we haven't had a budget for 606 days now, and that's the reason we're spinning this country into bankruptcy. we've had no budget, and this year the majority has not even sought to bring one to committee and certainly not brought one on the floor. the leadership, the democratic leadership said it would be foolish to pass a budget. well, i don't think it's foolish to pass a budget. i think it's the reason we've gotten out of control in what we're doing, and so that's why i've made the objection. madam president, i would ask unanimous consent that i be able
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to enter into a colloquy with my republican colleagues. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: madam president, i just would say that. this is a very, very important matter, and i don't like to have to take this action. but i believe it's the right action. i see on the floor now is senator corker from tennessee. he was mayor of the city of chattanooga. and as mayor, they produce budgets, and actually did one of the greatest jobs of any mayor of the united states, the truth be known, in making that city the fabulous place it is today. he is a businessman also. so i guess, senator corker, what are your thoughts at this point in time about the state of the financial management of the
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taxpayers' money being handled by the united states senate? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: thank you, madam president. the senator from alabama, thank you for the comments and your leadership on the budget committee. and to the two gentlemen, the senator from illinois and the senator from south dakota, i thank them for their work in appropriations. and this discussion on the floor has absolutely nothing to do with the work that they've done. i understand that actual lit top line that they're using was within the budget that was passed through the house. the reason i'm here with you today, though, is for this reason. i don't think there is many -- there aren't many senators on either side of the aisle that believe that the senate is functioning in an appropriate manner. i can't go to the dining room or any other place, walk down the hall, get on the subway without some senator saying, can you believe how this place is operating? and us allowing spending bills
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to come to the floor and to be voted upon without having budgets basically makes us an accomplice in allowing this place to continue to be dysfunctional. we're having a showdown over the debt ceiling because there isn't any other place to have a showdown. and i realize that many people have decided that that's not the appropriate place, and there's been a scheme concocted to sort of allow both sides to have it as they may and try to fight this out in the electoral process down the road instead of going ahead and dealing with some of the tough issues we ought to deal with now. but it just seems to me, senator, that what we do by going on about our business in this way is we act as accomplices to the disfunctionality of the united states senate. it is my belief that this united states senate, by virtue of the way we are acting, is making
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this great nation weaker. that's what we're doing. is this senate that we're -- this senate that we're standing in right now is causing this great nation to decline because we are unwilling to come down here, and i would say candidly leadership on both sides of the aisle doesn't really want us to come down here and make tough decisions. you are know, either side wants it 100% their way, but we realize to move things ahead you've got to skirmish, you've got to fight, you've got to debate. sometimes you've got to do some things you don't really want to do to move the country ahead. but we're avoiding that. and what we're doing today is moving possibly to an appropriations bill, a spending bill, without a budget. i can't imagine in a country spending $3.7 trillion, 40% of it that we don't have, that we're going to move to spending bills without resolving these particular issues.
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so i'm extremely disappointed. i know that i've been saying some pretty strong things here on the floor but it's because i'm concerned about this country. and i know everybody here is concerned about this country. it's not as if those of us who are talking about this issue are the only ones. that's not the image or perception that i'm trying to project. i just think that sometimes we go to sleep at the switch. we go about our business almost as zombies down here, continuing to allow this disfunctionality to occur. i'm all in support of the movement that you've put in place here to basically not allow this to go forward, because we don't have a budget. that is the appropriate place for us to be, and i hope this senate, in spite of the fact that this appropriations bill funds some things that candidly we all support -- we want to see veterans get benefits. but those veterans, many of them
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lost limbs doing tough things for our country, and they're watching potentially us not having the courage to do tough things on the floor that might flesh us out, that might cause us to actually take a tough position on the floor. but, oh, that might affect electoral politics down the road. instead of doing that, we'll go 806 days without a budget. i'm disappointed. i'm disappointed in all of us, both sides of the aisle. both sides of the aisle. and i do not think we should be going to a spending bill until we do the tough business that we were sent here to do as united states senators. and with that, i yield to my friend from alabama. mr. sessions: before i recognize the other senators, i just briefly ask you this, senator corker, having been a businessman and a mayor and observed the political scene in the country, are you aware of any government entity, city, county or state, that's
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systemically almost structurally borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar they have spent. can you remember any time where any city or state ran such a deficit? mr. corker: i cannot. and the fact is that's why, you know, recent polls show that americans have about a 20% approval rating of congress. what i would say to them, based on what i know, based on what we're getting ready to do here on the floor today, 20% is way too high. way too high. the fact is that we do everything we can to avoid tough decisions in public, tough decisions in public, where -- where we have to take a stand. that's what we were elected to do. that's what the veterans that will be receiving benefits, if this bill passes, did. that's what we're not doing. my guess is they'd be willing to wait for this bill to pass.
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it doesn't fund things until next year, and allow us to make those tough decisions that need to be made as we flush out a budget, as we work amongst ourselves to finally come to a place that we -- we agree upon in funding this government. so i certainly appreciate your leadership. i know that others want to speak at this moment, and i will yield the floor. mr. sessions: thank you, senator corker. i just would say that the spasm that's occurring in the senate, the frustration that's boiling up is not for light or transient reasons. it's a big, big deal when the united states government has been for months and will continue to be borrowing about 40% of every dollar we spend, running up the largest deficits the nation has ever seen. and so what the law says, that -- the law and the united states code says you should have
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a budget. and when you set a budget, you take all of the bills that are out there and tell them how much money they have to spend so your total amount of money at the end does not exceed a dangerous level for the c. that's whac -- for the country. that's what a budget does. and so we're going to seek and repeatedly call to this senate's attention that we got the cart before the horse. we're spending money without a budget and we're going to have to have a budget, else we are not in control of our spending. and once you have a budget, it takes 60 votes to violate the budget. you can kind of stick to it if you make up your mind to do so. and we don't have to violate it and burst the budget. so that's -- that's what we're talking about today and it's a matter of great seriousness. i'm pleased my colleague, senator rand paul from kentucky, who was elected last fall to this body, i know he talked
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about the state of the american economy and our debt during that campaign. and senator paul, what are your thoughts as we approach this moment? mr. paul: well, i want to join in sort of the outrage that we would consider spending money without having a plan. you know, who spends money and has no plan as to how much you're going to spend or has a plan as to what the repercussions are for spending money that you don't have? we're spending $100,000 a seco second. by the time i finish this sentence, we'll have spent a half a million dollars. of that $100,000 a second, we're borrowing $40,000 a second. the president is asking us now -- and you've all heard about it, the debate is on -- the president is asking us to add $2 trillion of spending and borrowing, of borrowing and spending, $2 trillion.
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how long will it last? well, we don't know because there's not a budget, but there's going to be $2 trillion estimated that will be spent in the next year that we don't ha have. what does that mean to a country? there are estimates that our deficit now, which approaches the size of our economy, is costing us a million jobs a year. now, what does that mean? that also means less revenue which means worse deficits. it's all compounding upon itself. we have a rule and a law within the senate called the -- senator? -- the budget resolution from 1974 -- mr. sessions: the budget act. mr. paul: the budget act. and in that, it has some rules. right now we're discussing do we need new rules to control the deficit. this was a rule they wrote back in 1974 to kind of make things better. but it shows the rules only work if we obey them. we will be in defiance of this rule, and that's the question i have for senator sessions, we
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will be in defiance of our own rules if we go forward with an appropriation without a budget? mr. sessions: we absolutely wi will. it sets forth precisely the -- the language i thought i had before me -- but it requires this. senator paul, it's pre pretty c. i don't think there's any doubt about it. "until the concurrent budget resolution on the budget for a fiscal year has been agreed to and an allocation has been made to the committee on appropriations of the senate under section 302-a for that year, it shall not be in order for the senate to consider any appropriations bill." that's pretty clear. mr. paul: and what were their intentions? mr. sessions: the senator is a doctor and not a lawyer but i believe most anybody could understand that point. mr. paul: and what was the
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intention, though? what was the intention that rule would do by having a budget? was it supposed to limit them, what each appropriation bill for each subject would be allowed to spend? mr. sessions: that is correct, senator paul. the -- i'm sure in 1974, they were concerned about the process in the senate, they decided to try to bring order to it. they decided to require the budget be passed which sends a message over to the appropriation committees -- and this is a subcommittee of the appropriations committee, producing their milcon proposa proposal -- and they then give them numbers by which they're supposed to stay within. and if they don't, it requires a 60-vote total to proceed above the budget number. so it's the way to bring integrity to the system. mr. paul: so by invoking this rule from the 1974 budget act, your intention really has
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nothing to do with the bill that's presented before us, it has to do with whether or not we should be responsible as a government, have a budgetary plan, know how much money comes in, know how much money is being spent and do the responsible thing the american people expect of us. you know, i'm concerned what happens if we keep upon this path. if we keep spending money at the rate we're spending it, within about a decade, entitlements and interest consume the whole budget. that's if interest rates don't go up. you know, as you noticed the other day when larry lindsey wrote about it in the "wall street journal," he said, if interest rates go up to where they historically have been, we'll add another $5 trillion. i don't think we can withstand it. my sphere that the economy won't withstand it, that our country won't withstand it and that we do have to have somebody who will stand up and say, enough's enough. the country needs to have a plan. we need to budget how much money comes in and how much we can spend. and i think this is a good first step. mr. sessions: thank you. i can't think of a more
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important time in history for us to return to the tried-and-true budgetary process than at a time in which we are spending to a degree that's irresponsible, above anything we've ever done before. it's really threatening the american economy. it's not a light, little problem. it's a serious problem. so we've got 805, 806 days without a budget and that is -- so we've gone 805, 806 days without a budget, and that is a serious problem. so we're going to continue to work to insist that we proceed on the regular order under a budget. and i'll talk in a moment, but the reason we don't have a budget, the house has passed a budget. the republican house passed one by april 15, like the law requires. we've not even had a markup in
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the budget committee because the democratic leadership has decided that it's not fun to vote on a budget. you have to show your cards. you have to show where you're going to raise taxes, where you're going to cut spending and how much the deficit's going to be after it's all over. and president obama's budget received such a poor reception because it was so unbalanced and irresponsible that i guess maybe they decided it would be fooli foolish, as the leader said, for the senate to even produce one. and that's not a good reason, in my view. senator paul, i know it might be appropriate that we yield at this point to our colleagues and let them share any remarks. mr. paul: i have a question before we finish. the one question i have is we haven't had a budget in two years. when was the last time we had appropriations bills and are we working in the committee? see, the people expect us to come up here and do our job, and
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i would think our job is in committee, we deliberate over a budget, in your budget committee, over appropriations. are we deliberating over appropriations or have we had any committee hearings on the debt ceiling or how we can cut spending in order to try to not be spending so much money that we don't have? are we in the process of doing what we're supposed to be doing in committee? mr. sessions: i don't feel like we are, but i have to give this subcommittee credit. actually, this appropriations bill now before the senate amazingly, senator paul, i'm told is the first stand-alone appropriations bill brought to the floor of the senate since 2008. when i came here, we were -- we would try to pass all our appropriations bills by -- at least a number of them before the august recess and all by september 30. and when we didn't, we were embarrassed. well, the last several years, everything has been cobbled into
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one big continuing resolution and moved in a block. so i guess i say to my colleagues, as i yield the floor, thank you for proceeding at a pace to get a bill forward. it's just not your fault that we haven't had a budget at this point in time. i would yield the floor and reserve the balance of the time. mr. johnson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. johnson: i believe that senator kirk would like to speak in favor of the motion to waive and i yield him as much time as he may consume. mr. kirk: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. kirk: mr. president, i want to thank our ranking republican member on the budget committee, because in normal circumstances, i would be strongly supporting him and agree with him. the irony here is that this legislation conforms to a budget. it conforms to the paul ryan
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house budget and fits under the 302-b allocation. that's the amount of money that the house granted to the house appropriations subcommittee that wrote this bill. and when this bill passed our very conservative house of representatives, only five members of the house voted against it. all of our leading members of the house voting for it. now, we talk about needing to make tough decisions. i appreciate the members and their praise for the underlying legislation because we made so sometiv tough decisions. we looked at the president's request and we made a number of cuts. in alaska, at fort waynewright, we cut $57 million from their aviation complex. in germany at gesh i'm central distribution facility, we cut $21 million. also at that same facility, their infrastructure we cut by $16 million. at fort bliss, for the maintenance facility, we terminated the funding for that.
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also for their infrastructure proposal. at fort belvoir, road and infrastructure projects, we terminated that project. in honduras at sotocano, we made a $5 million reduction. in california, the coronado fitness center for north island we made a $14 million reduction. in cal c california at bridgepod for a multipurpose addition, we made a $3 million reduction. in the persian gulf in bahrain, for the bachelor' bachelor's end quarters, we terminated funding for that for this fiscal year. also in bahrain, a waterfront development also terminated that. in marianas, at the north ramp facilities, we also terminated. that was a $78 million reduction. also in mariana, ended funding for that project. in guam at the guam strike fuel systems maintenance hander, we cut fanged in half saving $64
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million. in nebraska at offet sp-rbgts a $30 million reduction for replacement facility number one. in qatar, we terminated funding for the blasr ford conference. in utah we terminated funding for the f-35adell hangar. in colorado at buckley, we made a $70 million reduction in the mountain view operations facility. in maryland at the joint base an tkraourbgs am pwaou -- andrews, ambulatory care center, a $121 million reduction. in maryland, we terminated funding for that facility. in texas, joint base san antonio, ambulatory care center, we cut funding in half. in texas at fort bliss at the hospital replacement facility, reduced funding by $27 million. in utah at camp williams data
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center, we cut funding in half saving $123 million. in total, we made reductions in 24 separate programs, including canceling the building i talked about, a whole new court for the court of veterans appeals. that's why this legislation came in $2.6 million even below the house, why it's $1.2 billion in budget authority below the president. and $620 million below last year's budget authority. reminding members there are no earmarks in this legislation. so my hope is 89 members voted for cloture on this legislation yesterday, which is why we brought it up. my hope is that those 89 members vote for cloture again on this underlying motion. i think most of our members are going to vote for the members on my side, on the republican side, are going to vote for this budget point of order once we get to that. and i completely understand
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that. i'll be probably supporting him on other bills. the only commonsense point i'll make here is because we are at the house budget level and because the house has adopted them, because this conforms to the paul ryan budget, i think we should move forward, especially as our ranking member wisely said, this is the first appropriations bill coming up separately since 2008, and i will say you make specific reductions to real spending when you actually bring up a bill, as chairman johnson has decided to do with my backing. and with that, i yield back to chairman johnson and thank him for the time. mr. johnson: mr. president -- the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. johnson: i yield the floor to -- i reserve the balance of my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i see senator lee from utah. senator lee is a new senator.
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he campaigned throughout his state and talked about the kind of issues we're dealing with today. and i would yield to him at this time. mr. lee: mr. president we've now been operating for more than 800 days without a budget having been passed. we are operating at the direction of the party in control of this body on auto pilot. it's easy to operate on auto pilot. in many ways it's far easier than operating not on auto pilot, especially when we're spending more than $1.5 trillion a year more than we're bringing in. more than $1.5 trillion every year more than than we have, continuing to bury our children under a mountain of debt. when you're on auto pilot, you don't have the same constraints, the same hard choices, the same prioritization demands that need to be made that americans make every single day as they manage
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their homes, their lives, their families, their businesses and state and local governments. this is unfortunate. it's unnecessary. and it's shameful. it shouldn't continue to operate this way. an enterprise as large as the federal government which brings in $2.2 trillion every single year, having access to more money than perhaps any other institution on earth ought to be able to operate with a budget. it ought to be able to pass a budget. it ought not be operating on auto pilot so as to insulate itself from critiques justifiable and unjustifiable alike, from those who would say why are you doing it this way? why are you doing it that way? it ought to have the debate and discussion that is necessary, that necessarily surrounds the budgeting process in any legislative body, in any republic around the world. in the process of operating on
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auto pilot, we're severely exacerbating our deficit problem with our national debt now totaling nearly $15 trillion. what then is the solution? i believe that the solution to our current problem, especially as we approach the debt limit, involves the cut, cap and balance approach, including passage by both houses of congress of the cut, cap, and balance act, one that would require, in addition to our making immediate short-term cuts and adoption statutory spending caps designed to place us on a firm, smooth glide path tkaord a balanced budget -- toward a balanced budget, that we also pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. all of these would be passed as conditions precedent to our raising the debt limit which many of us would be willing to do if necessary to get those measures passed. we're not willing to raise it without those measures first being passed because we can't continue to perpetuate this
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problem, one in which we operate on auto pilot while burning $1.5 trillion a year that we don't have. this is crowding out other priorities. it's crowding out other investment in our economy. it's killing jobs, and it's jobs we need to be focused on because that's what the american people are focused on. they're worried about their ability and ability of their family and friends, many of whom are unemployed, to provide for their children, to pay their rent to, buy their groceries. these are things every american ought to be able to have access to and would have access to if only they had access to jobs. but at a time when we are spending at such a rate as we are, when we borrow to such a degree that we have that our debt to g.d.p. ratio is at about 95%, we're killing as many as a million jobs every single year in america as long as we remain in that danger zone. this simply cannot continue. another thing that we face right now that's something that i find
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completely unacceptable is the fact that amidst all of this debate and discussion that we've had in recent weeks about the debt limit, amidst the offer on the part of what are now most of the republicans in the united states senate to raise the debt limit under the circumstances that i've outlined, the president of the united states responded to those offers by threatening, promising perhaps to cut social security benefits to current retirees if the debt limit is not immediately raised and raised only consistent with the conditions that he's demanding right now. i fail to understand, mr. president, why the president of the united states would prefer to make so hasty, so cruel and so reckless a threat as withholding social security checks for current retirees before looking at any other
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federal program. i mean, look, we borrow at about a rate of $125 billion a month. that's a lot of money. a lot of people don't make that much money in a year. now as we're borrowing at that rate, we have to take into account the fact that social security benefits cost the u.s. treasury about $50 billion a month. $50 billion out of the $125 billion each month we borrow, assuming that's the portion of it that's borrowed. meanwhile we're bringing in about $200 billion a month in tax revenue. so there's more than enough tax revenue there to cover not only social security benefits but also interest on debt and a number of other things as well. that begs the question, why are social security beneficiaries the first to be threatened? why is it their checks that the president is threatening to withhold first? there is no explanation to this that he's offered, and i hereby demand one. i think our current retirees
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deserve more than to be used as pawns in a high-stakes political game, one that uses fear and uncertainty and doubt rather than reason and discussion and debate and willingness to compromise. the need for this has never been greater. the consequences for disregarding the need for debate and discussion have never been higher. i urge my colleagues and i urge all americans to work together to find a solution to this. a solution that need not involve and should not involve threatening america's most vulnerable, including our retirees who rely each month on social security, withholding those benefits simply because the president of the united states is unwilling to compromise, is unwilling to meet the conditions that many republicans in this body have acknowledged are their conditions precedent for raising the debt limit.
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there is a way forward. there is a road that will take us home. and the road home can be found in the cut, cap and balance act. this is not just the best proposal, this is the only proposal that currently has significant public support from a substantial number of members of this body. sometime today or tomorrow companion legislation will be introduced in the house of representatives and we'll be moving forward. i urge my colleagues to carefully consider this, and i urge my fellow americans to carefully consider these and to urge their representatives and their senators to embrace them and to adopt them. thank you very much. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i thank senator lee for his leadership on this cut, cap, and balance plan. i think it would change the debt trajectory of our country and put us on the path to prosperity rather than the path to decline
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and deficit and maybe financial crisis. indeed, mr. erskine bowles and mr. alan simpson, the cochairman of the deficit commission appointed by president obama, told us earlier this year in the budget committee that this nation has never faced a more predictable economic crisis. and what he was saying was the spending level we're on is so out of sync with reality that it is inevitable that we will pay the price economically for that. and so, part of the problem, part of reason we're where we are is because we haven't had a budget in over two years. and if you don't have a budget, it makes it harder to, for the american people to ascertain whether you're spending more than you ought to be spending.
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and the whole process is able to be pursued without public knowledge and full disclosure when you don't have a budget. every president is required by the same budget act to submit a budget. i think there is no president who's failed to comply with the budget act. it does not require that you go to jail if you violate it. probably we'd be better off had that been the case. but the president submitted a budget earlier this year, i think in february. it was, i believe, the most irresponsible budget ever presented to congress at a time of systemic structural deficits of trillions of dollars, the likes of which we've never ever
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had before, at a time when we needed to confront that and discuss it as a people, as a nation, he submitted a budget that increased taxes significantly, increased spending even more, and increased the deficit, not reduced it. eventually it came up for a vote. i brought it up for a vote since my colleagues wanted to vote down the house budget that was a responsible budget. it would actually change our debt course, reduce spending by $6 trillion. they brought that up, and it got 40 or so votes, but it didn't pass. i then brought up president obama's budget in the senate with a majority of democratic members, and it failed zero to
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97. 97 to zero because it didn't deserve a single vote. but it had one characteristic about it that was important. it actually had numbers in it. i guess the budget staff, they always produced a budget before the spin doctors at the white house realize it, they send out a budget projecting the president's future plans for america. just for example at a time when we're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar, the president proposes next year to increase the education department. 90% of our education funds are from the states, and they always take care of that. we provide certain federal funds that can be an asset to them. sometimes, sometimes it's a liability, frankly. but at any rate, he asked for 10.5% increase in education
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funding, 9.5% increase to the energy department, which spends most of its time blocking the production of energy rather than producing more lower cost, cleaner energy for the country. it proposed a 10.5% increase in the state department budget and proposed -- hold your hat -- 60% increase in transportation. much of that was for high-speed rail so everybody can walk -- 80% of americans apparently can walk to a train station and travel on high-speed rail. we don't have the money for that. states are rejecting the money. they run the numbers. they know it's not going to be feasible, and it's just an overreach. so i guess what i'm saying is somebody in this country does not get it. i thought the american people sent a message loud and clear
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last year when they sent a lot of new members to congress like senator paul and senator lee who were shocked at it and talked to their constituents and came to congress to do something about it. and we have not even brought a budget up. why didn't senator reid and the democratic leadership decide to bring a budget up? well, if you bring a budget, then you have to show what you believe. you have to propose a solution to the problem. what was their plan? to call the house budget and vote it down as every democrat voted it down, and they never produced one of their own. when i brought up president obama's budget, they voted it down. so we have not seen one real solution. we have been talking about oh, they will do this and that. senator durbin said we can change social security some and get it on a sound -- we can do
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something about medicare. well, let's see your plan. let's see it. the chairman of the budget committee says he has a budget, he has got a budget and he leaks out portions of it, but nobody sees the real budget. a certain number of visions and ideas and he claims he has an idea, but if you're unwilling to produce the budget and have a hearing in the budget committee, then you don't have one, i think. it's not a budget. i don't know what it is, it's not a budget. i see my colleague, senator cornyn. he has been a member of the budget committee. he is, i know, knowledgeable about these issues. i'm pleased to yield the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i
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come to the floor to express my appreciation for the ranking member of the budget committee, senator sessions, and to express many of the same concerns that i know he has articulated. one of the most basic responsibilities of any business or family or frankly of congress itself is to pass a budget, but as he has pointed out and has been pointed out time and time again, congress has failed for more than 800 days, 800 days to perform one of its most basic and fundamental responsibilities, and that is take up and pass a budget. well, even though we haven't passed a budget and taken up a budget, that doesn't mean the spending has stopped. indeed, the spending goes on in a reckless sort of way, we have
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spent $7.3 trillion since the last budget was passed and increased the national debt by by $3.2 trillion. now the senate is considering a bill, a spending bill, an appropriation bill before we have even passed a budget. it strikes me, mr. president, that that is exactly backwards. we should be passing and debating a budget first before we then take up appropriation bills. this is not the way congress should operate. now, taxpayers who might be watching this on c-span or elsewhere in the gallery may be asking themselves well how can congress spend money without having a budget in place because we know that a budget is a very important form of self-discipline. it requires you to identify what are your priorities, what are the things you have to spend
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money on, what are the things that you would like but you can put off until tomorrow or next year, and what are the things that you would like to have but you really can't afford. well, the fact of the matter is congress has been operating in an undisciplined and extravagant sort of way, not with our money but with the taxpayers' money, and even worse with the money that these young men and women who are sitting in front of me are going to have to pay because our legacy to them will be debt, a burden of debt which will limit their opportunity and their prosperity. well, as senator sessions, our ranking member, has pointed out, this is not only a bad idea, this is not only bad policy, this is not only a breach with our precedent and policies, there is in fact a budget act
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rule that prohibits what is going on. that is, spending money without a budget in place. it violates the senate rules. everybody knows that spending money without a budget in place is not a fiscally responsible way to act. of course, i would say to the distinguished senator from south dakota that we all support our military and our veterans and that there is no greater responsibility of the federal government than to defend our citizens to make sure that the needs of our troops and veterans are met. but congress should not, in the interest of doing something that is important, circumvent its own rules. taxpayers deserve transparency. with transparency comes
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accountability, and without a budget, taxpayers get neither. well, we know what's been going on in the absence of congress doing its job. indeed, the president's own proposed budget would have vastly expanded the debt and the deficits, and that's why it lost when we brought it to the floor and said we want to vote on it. it lost 97-0. no member of the opposing party, the president's own party, voted for the president's proposed budget because it was irresponsible, did nothing to solve the problem of reckless spending, deficits and unsustainable debt. so what are we left with? well, we're told that august 2, august 2, the secretary of the treasury says we will run out of money.
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well, rather than having a budget debated and voted on in front of the american people where every american could watch it, see what's going on, call our offices, express their concerns either supporting that budget or saying no, you ought to change it by offering an amendment. what we are given now by the president is secret negotiations behind closed doors and told eventually, i assume, that it will be rolled out and we will be told take it or leave it, august 2 we're out of money. and you, mr. senator, madam senator, madam congressperson, you can't do your most fundamental job and that is have a debate in the light of day in front of the american people. now, does this ring a bell? it seems to me that this is
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starting to be a habit, a bad habit. it started with the health care bill. it was rammed through congress. there was a product of secret negotiations, all sorts of special deals cut behind closed doors, and only now are we really beginning to see what the consequence of those special deals were and the costs that were vastly underestimated in the health care bill. well, i hate to say this, mr. president, but president obama has failed to lead on the debt ceiling. first we know that he called for a clean up-or-down vote without any cuts or any entitlement reform. that's the first thing he called for. thank goodness he has moved away from that position, but there are problems yet. but -- when he was a senator, in
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2006, he said increasing america's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. at the time he also said it is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies. that was back in 2006 when then-senator obama made those statements. so today we're presented with a much different view of the president of the united states who is now demagoguing those who hold the same views that he espoused himself in 2006. back when our debt and our deficits were much smaller than they are today. now, this isn't a matter of the president not understanding the problem that we find ourselves with because he appointed a commission, a bipartisan commission, the simpson-bowles
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commission that reported back in december in a report called "a moment of truth" which laid out in sobering detail the unsustainability of our national debt, the reckless spending that had gone on, the borrowing from the chinese and other governments. but rather than the president taking up the report of his own fiscal commission, he simply ignored it. he ignored it in the state of the union message. he certainly ignored it in his proposed budget which was dead on arrival over here without a single democrat voting for it, and in essence the president has outsourced his leadership responsibilities to others. we know that the president's current proposal, if you can call it that -- and, frankly, the devil is in the details, and while the house has passed a budget, while the simpson-bowles
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commission has made a recommendation, the domenici-rivlin bipartisan commission has made a recommendation, we have yet to see the president's plan. yes, he has held press conferences, he's bashed those rhetorically who held the very same position he held in 2006, but he has failed to lead and offer a plan to deal with this impending crisis. in fact, the president's current rhetoric, i don't think we can dignify it by calling it a plan -- is significantly to the left of his own bipartisan simpson-bowles recommendations. he is certainly to the left of simpson-bowles when it comes to spending, calling for much more spending, no cuts but continued spending. and he's to the left of simpson-bowles when it comes to
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taxes when more is all -- is the only word he seems to know when it comes to taxes. more taxes. in fact, when the president says well, we're going to cut cut $1 trillion, let's say or or $2 trillion or we're going to raise taxes $2 trillion, what does that net? that means no net change in the size of the federal government, and that means no real down payment on our national debt or deficit. it's a sleight of hand. it's phony. it's designed to give the appearance of doing something serious while doing nothing serious at all. we know the president has failed to lead in other ways. he's delegated or outsourced his responsibility to the vice president. and it took only -- it took only a few weeks ago for the president to finally step up and engage personally, and we find
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that more often than not he proposed phony solutions like changing the depreciation schedule for corporate jet owners, dealing with the tax treatment of oil and gas companies and changing an accounting rule called last in, first out. but the facts are that those changes, even if adopted, would be a drop in the bucket. they would do nothing significant or serious to deal with our huge deficits and our unsustainable debt. unfortunately, the president's own personal engagement is frequently nothing more than personal attacks. his recent press conferences have been full of name-calling and straw man attacks that are frankly beneath the dignity of the office of president of the united states. it's more like somebody instead of being a commander in chief, it's more like he's decided i'm going to be campaigner in chief. i will ale not going to deal with the problem -- i'm not
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going to deal with the problem. i'm going to just look at winning the next election. and then we read yesterday that even in private the president is throwing temper tantrums, like he did yesterday and stomping out of the meeting at the white house, again failing to show leadership. but the most sin icle thing -- but the most cynical thing the president has done, the most cynical abdication of leadership that he has displayed so far is his new threat to hold seniors, our veterans, and our troops hostage unless congress will agree to job-killing tax increases immediately. this is shameful behavior. we all know that even if the august 2 deadline passes without a deal, according to the bipartisan policy center, the united states treasury will still have enough revenue --
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about $172 billion -- to pay for social security benefits, to pay for medicaid and medicare, to pay active duty military and other national priorities. let me repeat: the only reason senators -- excuse me, seniors and our troops will see their checks stop coming is if the obama administration decides to make other spending a priority, and if the obama administration chooses to hold our troops and seniors hostage, just so they can raise taxes. you know, this is another amazing display of cynicism or i guess the most charitable way i can say it short-term memory. the president himself said last december, the reason why we couldn't raise taxes -- or shouldn't raise taxes in a fragile economic recovery is because it would be bad for job creation.
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it would further discourage job creation at a time when we need jobs badly. well, mr. president, let me say just a word about tax increases and why this side of the aisle believes so strongly that tax increases are not the answer to our debt crisis. as one president famously said -- quote -- "the last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession because it would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses further in the hole." close quote. well, the president that said that was president barack obama, back in 2009. the president makes our case for us. another president said, "low taxes help millions of entrepreneurs hire new workers."
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oh, yes, that was again president barack obama when he signed the extension of tax relief last december. then there was another preside president, somebody who our nation holds in high regards, who happens to have been a member of the other political party, who said -- quote -- "the final and best means of strengthening demand among consumers and businesses to reduce the burden on private income and the deterrence to private initiatives that are imposed by our current tax system." that was president john f. kennedy in 1962. president kennedy also said, "in short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise revenue in the long-run is
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to cut the rates now." only, he said -- and he is exactly right when he said, "only full employment can balance the budget and tax reduction can pave the way to that employment." the purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit but to achieve the more prosperous expanding economy that can bring about a budget surplus. he had it exactly right. we need to not only cut spendi spending, but we need to grow revenue. the best way to grow revenue is to get more taxpayers to get more people back to work. the reason why federal revenue is so low is not because tax rates are too low or people are not taxed enough; it's because too many people are out of work. out of work. when you don't have a job, you can't pay your taxes, you can't pay taxes, you don't pay tanches and you don't pay your home
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mortgage. you lose your home. we are for more people getting back to work, and we've tried the failed stimulus, the goal of which was to keep unemployment between -- or below 8%. we know that failed, and yet we wracked up another $800 billion in debt. so why don't we try the old-fashioned way, to take our boot off the neck of the job creators in america, to make it easier, not harder, to create jobs, to provide incentives for entrepreneurs to start new businesses, to existing small businesses to expand their business. but they can't do it and they won't do it with uncertainty about their taxes, with regulatory overreaching, and other policies coming out of washington, d.c.
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republicans are holding the line against the president's demand for higher taxes for a very simple reason: president kennedy was right about taxes back in 1962, and president barack obama was right about taxes as recently as last december. unfortunately, he's changed his mind or he's forgotten the position he took just last december. now, mr. president, republicans don't want tax increases, and we don't want to see the federal government default on its obligations. so we have an obligation to come up with an affirmative plan, a positive plan to solve the problem, and i believe we've done so. the first is a balanced budget amendment to the united states constitution that's cosponsored by every republican on this side of the aisle. the last time we voted on a
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balanced budget amendment in the senate was 1997, before i got here, where 11 democrats voted to support that constitutional amendment. i hope our democratic colleagues will join us in doing -- not on extraordinary thing, not an extraordinary thing, not an heroic thing. it is a very ordinary but a very common sense thing thansdz to make sure the federal government -- and that is to make sure the federal government lerps to live within its means -- learns to live within its means an not spend money it doesn't have. we hope they will join us. part of that plan is also the cap, cut, and balance legislation that i've cosponsored and that i hope the house of representatives will take up and send over here soon. this legislation is a plan that avoids defaulting on our obligations, that prevents more taxes, particularly during a fragile economic recovery. it cut cuts reckless spending at
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cuts our fiscal house in order. what is painfully apparent, mr. president, is we are running out of time. and i'm not just talking about the august the 2nd deadline. yesterday, moody's investors services said it was reviewing the nation's top-notch aaa credit rating for a potential downgrade. if credit agencies downgrade our debt, it will cost more for us to borrow from the chinese and our other creditors. and as we know, because of federal reserve policies, the federal reserve has kept interest rates below historic norms. if those were to grow to historic norms, because our debt has been downgraded by the credit agencies or for any other reason, the interest on our national debt alone will crowd
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out other priorities for our nation. it will make it less likely that we can afford to do what we need to do to defend our national security or to provide the very safety net that our democratic colleagues claim to care so much about. we won't have the money to do it. because we will not have acted responsibly in dealing with the deficit and the debt today. i urge my colleagues to heed these warnings and to join us in cutting spending and to get our debt under control. in the end, everyone will come out a winner if we accomplish that goal. this is not a republican plan. this is not a democratic plan. this is what is right and good and necessary for the united states of america.
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and so that generations in the future can enjoy the same opportunity and prosperity that we ourselves have enjoyed. and, heaven help us -- heaven help us -- if we fail to take advantage of this opportunity and to deal responsibly with this impending crisis. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i thank the senator from texas. this is very serious business we're engaged in here. the strength of his comments, the method of delivery, and the content are indicative of the serious challenges we're facing. for example, under the budget that was submitted to us -- the only budget we've seen so far from the president -- the
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interest on our debt, according to the congressional budget office who took their ten-year budget and calculated it out, calculated that we're paying about $240 billion in interest today on our debt. in the tenth year of president obama's budget, as you said, senator cornyn, interest would crowd out other things. it would be $940 billion, one year's interest. when we borrow money, we pay trrks just like individual dozen when they borrow money. and we're borrowing so much money that we're doubling the debt again, and our country in ten years, the interest on it will crowd out other things; elogforexample, it would be morn social security, more than our medicare, more than you are a defense department spending in that year. so i thank you for sharing that. i see my senator -- my friend,
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senator johnson, who wanted to make a consent request. i would be pleased to yield at this time. mr. johnson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that michael prairie raymond, an intern with the senate appropriations committee, be accorded floor privileges during the consideration of h.r. 2055. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: i thank the senator for his courtesy. i yield the floor and reserve the balance of my time. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: just to wrap up here and i'll close at 2:00. i understand that under our agreement, that 2:00 would be the time alote catted for the democratic speakers -- would be the time allocated for the democratic speakers, as they may appear and there may be time 359:0
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at 3:00, under my control or for the republican speakers at that time. the presiding officer: that is the understanding, although i'm told that the agreement has not been formalized as yet. but i do understand that's the agreement. the senator from alabama is correct. mr. johnson: that is all right. mr. sessions: i'll wrap up and reserve -- i ask consent that there be 30 minutes under my control at 3:00 p.m. the presiding officer: is there objection? hearing none -- without objection. it is granted. mr. sessions: i thank the chaimplet the fundamental
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problem is that our democratic leadership has decided that it would be foolish to have a budget. even though it's required by larks they refuse to produce a budget now for 806 days, over two years. last year senator conrad produced a budget in committee and he was -- it was voted on and brought to the floor, but the majority leader refused to even bring it up for debate and vote. this year, i suppose it was, that the majority leader decided we wouldn't even have one in committee. so we've not commenced any action to pass a budget. but now we are proceeding to spend money, we're proceeding to pass legislation that would expend taxpayers' money without a budget. and that's not good policy by any standards, whether you have a law or not.
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we actually have a law that requires us to have a budget first. that's why i found myself having to produce a -- to raise a budget point of order. so, mr. president, we weren't elected here to shut down the committees, to violate the congressional process of deciding how money should be spent, to cede our constitutional responsibility to some secret meeting somewhere, so they can produce some sort of bill and drop it in the senate on august 1 presumably and then demand that we pay for it, because, look, you've got to look behind the numbers. just because the president says his budget does one thing, his plan does another thing, don't you think we ought to check it out? one of the most stunning statements i've ever heard from
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a president and from the budget director was heard early this year after the president presented his budget. he and the budget director, publicly and in committee -- the budget director in committee said that our budget will have us live within our means and pay down the debt. they used those words. so anybody hearing that gosh, i'm glad the president produced a budget to have us live within our means and pay down our debt. you know, we've been spending too much money. and what's the truth? the truth is the lowest single annual deficit in ten years, according to the congressional budget office analysts, would be $740 billion? the highest president bush ever had was $450 billion and that was too high. this year it will be $1,500 billion. so -- and i would point out that
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in the out-years, that $740 billion was about year six. the seven, eight, nine, ten, the numbers are going up again and c.b.o. says the 10th year, the deficit under the president's budget will be $1,200 billion, $1.2 trillion. so this is not good. we need to get our house in order. we're going to insist that we do it in the right way. that's why i've objected to proceeding to spending bills without a budget. it's time for the majority leader to bring us into session. let's have a budget. let's see where people stand. let's make the tough decisions. let's vote on it. let's allow ourselves to be held accountable by the people who sent us here. mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i i'm -- i appreciated hearing my
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colleagues talking about the seriousness of the situation that we're in because i think there is one thing that every single member of this body agrees on and that is that we have to address the long-term debt and deficits of the country. and like many members of this chamber, i've repeatedly called for a bipartisan package that includes reforms to everything that's deficit related. so that means cuts in spending, domestic, discretionary and nondiscretionary, that means defense, and it means mandatory programs, but it also means increased revenue. and i have supported attaching deficit-reduction measures to the vote on the debt limit and i believe that reducing the deficit is critical to strengthening the long-term health of our economy.
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but i also, mr. president, that evereveryone -- and that means everyone -- has to come to the table to find a compromise solution that will get this done. i think democrats know this. that's why time and time again we've offered compromise plans, including more than a trillion dollars in spending cuts. but it's disappointing that politics are keeping some in this chamber and in the congress from negotiating in good faith. that's a real disservice to the american people. i've spoken before about what some people are trying to protect -- tax breaks for big oil, for hedge fund operators and for yacht owners -- but i'd like to speak today about what some are willing to risk to
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protect those tax giveaways and what happens if we don't increase the debt limit and meet the united states' financial obligations. first of all, raising the debt limit does not mean spending more. our spending is set by congress every year in our annual budget process. raising the debt limit means paying the government's bills, our government, the government that all of us are a part of. and not just members of congress but every man, woman and child throughout this country. it's not the democrats' government and it's not president obama's government and it's not the republicans' government. it belongs to all of us. and we're talking about servicing savings bonds that have been issued under president
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reagan, about supporting an army that was first sent to afghanistan under president bu bush, about paying social security checks and for food inspectors and air traffic controllers. the discussion we're having now is about the full faith and credit of the united states government. failure to raise the debt limit means default. it means that the united states would not meet its obligations for the first time in our history. and what would happen? well, warren buffett sai said -- and i quote -- "it would for congress be the most' most assie act ever." fed chairman ben bernanke it said would lead to -- quote -- "a huge financial calamity." economist and former reagan advisor ron kudlow, said "default would be catastrophic."
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the biggest concern these experts name is the potential for a global financial crisis. companies, pension funds and governments across the world hold u.s. savings bonds. a default could ciga trigger a s worse than one in 2008. and in fact, we just heard from secretary geithner a few minutes ago it would be worse than the crisis of 2008, which itself triggered the worst recession since the great depression. we're just now climb out of that hole caused by -- we're just now climbing out of that hole caused by the financial crisis. we cannot risk another one. i want to read from a letter that was sent to congress earlier this week by hundreds of america's top businesses and business organizations, including the chamber of commerce, the financial services round-table, and some great new hampshire companies like cirtronics and control air.
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and i'm quoting -- "we believe it is vitally important for the u.s. government to make good on its financial obligations. it is critical that the u.s. government not default in any way on its fiscal obligations. a great nation, like a great company, has to be relied on to pay its bills, to pay its debts when they become due." and i'm still quoting -- "this is a mainstreet not wall street issue. treasury securities influence the cost of financing not just for companies but, more importantly, for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, and student debt. a default would risk both disarray in those markets and a host of unintended consequences. the debt ceiling trigger does offer a needed catalyst for serious negotiations on budget discipline, but avoiding even a technical default is essential.
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this is a risk our country must not take." again, this isn't my opinion. this is the opinion of our nation's business leaders. i hope we're going to listen to them. in a recent op-ed in "usa today," the chamber and the financial services forum spelled out why they believe a default would result in -- quote -- "hundreds of thousands of lost jobs every year." first, they point out that a default would halt critical government operations far more abruptly than we've seen in past standoffs over the budget, so that means worse than in 1995 when government shut down. they say -- quote -- "the u.s. treasury is expected to take in about $100 billion in tax revenue in august but needs to pay $300 billion in expenses. the resulting $130 billion
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deficit would require the government to pick which programs -- medicare, medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance -- to pay for and which not to fund and there would be little money left to pay our troops or to run our courts, the prison system, the f.b.i., or other essential operations." they go on to note that detaught would make our -- default would make our government debt and deficit problem worse. yesterday, moody's, the credit rating agency, put the united states government's credit rating under review. if moody's were to downgrade our credit rating, investor confidence in u.s. bonds would be shaken and it would be more expensive for our government to borrow money. this is something that i understand viscerally because as governor of new hampshire, we worked closely to try and avoid the rating agencies down gradin-
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downgrading the state's borrowing so that we would have to pay more money. j.p. morgan estimates that the higher interest rates caused by default could increase our annual deficits by a staggering $75 billion a year. just from higher interest rates. if we're really serious about reducing the deficit, this is the wrong way to go. and that's why we need to find a compromise solution. we've done that in the past. the debt limit has gone up under every president in modern times, and i think this list is instructive. it shows that president nixon raised it nine times for a total increase of $130 billion and 36% of the cost. president clinton raised it four times -- see that -- and the cost and the percent of spendi
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spending. since president kennedy, the most frequent and largest increases came under president reagan. 18 increases, 199% total increase. i don't think anybody here thinks that president reagan was a champion of big government or that if he didn't have to raise the debt limit in order to address what he had to do as president, that he would have raised it. this is not a question about the option of raising our debt lim limit. it's a question of raising our debt limit or catastrophe is going to occur. and i believe that many of our colleagues, mr. president, on both sides of the aisle understand the importance of getting this done. i believe that many of them value -- believe in the value of
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compromise. we all have to be at the table. we all have to be ready to compromise to reach a solution. i urge my colleagues to do what's right, for us all to put politics aside for the good of the economy and the good of the country. thank you very much, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: mr. president, first, i ask unanimous consent that gerdana sidner, eddie sahik and tyler smith of my staff be granted floor privileges for the duration of today's proceedings. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hark harkin: mr. presidentd like to follow up a little bit on what the senator from new hampshire just spoke about and that is the absurdity, the absolute absurdity, of what's going on in washington here today. mr. president, our nation used to have a two-party system in
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our country but it's increasingly apparent that one of our two parties has morphe morphed -- has morphed into some kind of a quasi-religion, driven by one ideology: preserving and expanding tax breaks for the wealthy and for big corporations. to that end, many republicans in congress are perfectly willing to push the united states of america into defaulting on its debt obligations with dire economic consequences. this is y dangerous detour in our nation's political and economic life. but just as dangerous, just as dangerous as the prospect of a default on our debt obligations is the republicans' determination to defund and dismantle as much of the federal government as possible. to that end, they're demanding deep draconian cuts to federal funding and investing at a time when unemployment is already
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high and skyrocketing and when our economy remains fragile. to justify these deep cuts, republicans with this new ideology that they have have articulated an absurd economic theory. absolutely absurd. they claim that slashing federal funding and investments by trillions of dollars will somehow magically create jobs. i don't know of any mainstream economist, anyone with an ounce of common sense who agrees with this bizarre theory. to the contrary, economists warn us this is absolutely the wrong time to be slashing federal investment for the obvious reason. that deep short-term cuts to federal spending will dramatically reduce demand in the economy, thus reducing employment even further. already this year cuts to government spending at the state and local levels have destroyed an estimated 500,000
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public-sector jobs. and that goes on with an undetermined number of private-sector jobs that work with these public sectors. economists understand that terminating the jobs of teachers, police officer and other essential public employees has the same negative impact on the economy as eliminating private-sector jobs. now, nonetheless, as if they live in some kind of a parallel upside down universe, republicans insist that slashing federal funding in investment will create jobs. let's test that theory. let's test that theory in one area of federal investment. let's take transportation funding. everybody understands that our transportation infrastructure is woefully inadequate. it's in a state of increasing disrepair, overloaded. most people understand that ramping up investments and modernizing our highways and
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bridges and public transit systems would strengthen our economy and create millions of jobs. these are the veins and arteries of our commerce. so what do the republicans in the house propose? last week the republican leader put forward a new transportation authorization bill that would slash current investments in transportation by more than one-third. one-third. one-third cut in transportation. so will this create jobs? as the republicans claim? of course not. the senate environment and public works committee estimates that the house bill would destroy more than 490,000 highway instruction jobs and close close to 100,000 transit-related in mass transit. mr. president, this is pure folly. this is a classic example of what happens when ideological
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obsessions cause members of congress to be blind to practical, commonsense realities. i have repeatedly come to the floor to advocate for a balanced approach to bringing our deficits under control one that includes spending cuts and revenue increases. at the same time economists warn us that we need a deficit-reduction plan that defers the lion's share of spending cuts for several years, allowing our economy to recover before the negative impacts are felt. i must also ask, mr. president, why are we proeplg to slash all -- proposing to slash all these fundings for highways and schools and infrastructure here at home while we continue to spend untold billions of dollars to build highways, schools and infrastructure in afghanistan? a lot of times people ask me, they say, senator harkin, you say you're willing to cut spending. where? right here. let's start right here. let's start with afghanistan and iraq. we're spending $168 billion in
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iraq and afghanistan this year alone. $168 billion. this year, fiscal year 2011, we're spending more than $13 billion to train the iraqi and afghan security forces. $13 billion. okay. what did we spend here in america to retrain our workers so they can get new jobs? less than $10 billion. we're spending more money to train afghan and iraqi forces, security forces than we're spending to retrain our own workers all over america. 24 million americans unemployed or underemployed and yet we're spending $168 billion this year on afghanistan and iraq. again, i applaud the president for the actions he's taken, but quite frankly, mr. president, they don't go far enough. the president should have a
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faster timetable for our troops to get out of afghanistan. i've said is that publicly many times. if you really want to save some money, save that $1 million that it costs to keep one soldier in afghanistan and get them back here. we went to afghanistan to get the taliban out, get al qaeda out and to get osama bin laden. we got osama bin laden. al qaeda is no longer in afghanistan. and the taliban is gone. so what are we still doing there? why are we still there? why are we still spending about $14 billion a month in afghanistan? so, mr. president, again, we need a balanced approach. spending cuts alone won't do the job. i think the kweupbdz have -- i think the republicans have just proved this. republicans have proved that spending cuts alone will not get the job done.
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how do i say that? look at the republican budget, the so-called ryan budget. it dismandate also medicare, guts medicaid, makes severe cuts across the federal budget. yet it still adds trillions of dollars to the federal deficit for years to come largely because it refuses to touch tax breaks for the well-to-do or to raise other revenues from corporations. well, mr. president, the republicans have said they don't want to raise taxes on so-called job creators. they don't want to raise taxes on job creators. well, to call trust fund millionaires and wall street money manipulators job creators is laughable. meanwhile, to call any corporations in the united states job creators is increasingly questionable. in one respect actually you can argue that america's big brand name corporations -- g.e., microsoft, and so on -- are --
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quote -- "job creators." the problem is they're not creating jobs here. they're creating them overseas and eliminating them here. the u.s. commerce department data shows that during the 2000's, u.s. companies, multinational companies cut their workforces here at home by 2.9 million. 2.9 million and increased their workforces overseas by 2.4 million. they're creating jobs all right, they're just not creating them here in america. and to add insult to injury, there are provisions in the u.s. tax code that promote this kind of behavior, the kind of tax breaks that republicans insist on preserving. so they want -- they don't want to tax job creators. and yet, we've shown, the data is there, these big multinationals are creating jobs overseas. we would like to, i would like
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to, i'm sure the occupant of the chair would like to close some of those loopholes so there's not a tax benefit to shipping your jobs overseas. republicans say no, they don't want to do that. in the month of may, the u.s. trade deficit soared to more than $50 billion, the highest level in nearly three years. in just one month. one month. and the trade deficit, that $50 billion just for one country was half of that. china $25 billion trade deficit. those figures, you might say what does that mean? well, those figures represent a transfer of millions of jobs and billions in wages from the united states to china or to other countries abroad. we need to seriously examine our trade policies also which continually send jobs and wages overseas. we need to is to be bowing before the sacrosanct altar of free trade as if it doesn't even
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warrant our examination. instead we need to ask how we can make our trade policies work for the middle class. for instance, by defending america's right to oppose currency manipulation and abusive trade practices. just one area alone. we ought to start talking about fair trade, fair trade, fair trade. not free trade, free trade, free traeufpltd because you see where free trade gets us if we don't stand up to other countries who manipulate their currencies like khaoeurpbgs and to whom we're shipping -- like china, and to whom we're shipping all our jobs and our money. i think our economy is at the point of maximum danger. this congress is at an historic decision point with regard to raising the debt ceiling and bringing deficits under control. however, as we've seen played out in the press, in the media, standing in the way -- standing in the way of a rational,
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reasonable compromise, our congressional republicans' ideological obsessioning with preserving tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires at all costs. they have rejected the president's deficit-reduction plan that was $4 trillion. he went over halfway. they rejected that. now they're threatening to force us to default on the national debt. i'll just close on this, mr. president. i heard our distinguished minority leader, the senator from kentucky, said that this was now obama's economy. and the problems we have is because of obama because he's been there almost, almost three years. two and a half years now. so, therefore, he owns it. you know, this is really a kind of an interesting world we're living in.
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we're -- we have a debt ceiling. and why has the debt gone up? the debt's gone up because we borrowed money. we borrowed a lot of money. the congressional budget office says that the debt that we have today comes from, number one -- now remember ten years ago, ten years ago right now we had a surplus, a budget surplus, one of the largest in our nation's history left thanks to president clinton. well, then president bush comes into office. republicans take over the house. republicans take over the senate. what do they do? they ram through a massive tax cut and gives it mostly to the wealthy in our country. then 9/11 happens, we run into two wars totally unpaid for. just borrow it. borrow it from china, wherever. just borrow the money to pay for two wars. then we had a medicare drug prescription benefits, and we didn't pay for that. we borrowed money for that also.
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and so, the debt that we have today, that we're grappling with is because of policies enacted by a republican president and a republican congress. so they ran up the debt and now they don't want to pay for it. this is not president obama's debt, not at all. this is what happens when you have almost eight, nine years of uninterrupted borrowing and spending, borrowing and spending by president bush and a republican congress. well, this is their debt. again, i call upon republicans, reasonable, responsible republicans to come forward and give up on this ideological obsession that they have, this new theology that says no tax reform, no raising of revenues from anyone, even those that can afford it the most. well, mr. president, i still remain an optimist. it is not too late for reason to
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prevail. you've heard loudly and clearly from the extremists and ideologues who would bring down our economic house rather than agree to any compromise. now it's time for decent, patriotic americans to speak up and say enough. we can and must come together around a balanced plan to bring our deficits under control, and we must uphold the full faith and credit of the united states of america. mr. president, with that i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: i ask unanimous consent the proceedings under the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coons: thank you, mr. president. i rise today as have so many other senators because i'm concerned. i'm concerned about what i have been hearing about the threat of default has now just over three weeks away. what i have heard both here in washington and in my home state of delaware. this looming default crisis is one of the most grave and most predictable threats for our economy and our country that i have ever seen. and it's no longer floating in a distance over the horizon, something we can debate academically, something whose impact we may yet avert. it is here. we are on the edge. we are given the difficulties this body can have in moving
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something through in a matter of days, we are very close to the absolute last day when we can consider options and a path forward. default is right before us, and it must be dealt with. i rise today not to add to the political rhetoric. there has certainly been plenty of that in the last few days. nor do i rise to try to illicit panic or fear in the broader public. i rise because the folks of delaware, the people from whom i have been hearing just don't know what to believe. they know our deficit spending, they know our national debt is out of control and they are deeply concerned. that's good. i share that concern. i share that commitment to making certain that we reduce our spending and we deal with our deficits, because deficits and debt of the size that we have today can harm our economy fundamentally. they are a basic challenge to our national security, to our success, to our growth going forward. but i also rise because there is
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no faster way to ensure that our economy will never get back on track, that our country will never reach its full potential than to let our nation default on its financial obligations. we need to deal with this default crisis, mr. president, in a responsible and pragmatic way to create a real and lasting solution. we must, in my view, restore certainty to our markets to help get our economy going again. what do we hear from business? from businessmen large and small all over the country, certainty, we need predictability, we need certainty in the markets. nothing is creating uncertainty more than this christkindling lack of resolution to the -- than this grinding lack of resolution to the vote to raise our debt ceiling. i want to take a look at a few of the myths that i hear at home that i think need to be cleared up. first, some members of this body and the other house of congress, some folks running for president, some people in the press have suggested that a
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default will cause only minor economic disruption, if any at all. economist after economist, think tank after think tank, study after study have shown in the last few weeks that nothing could be further from the truth. there are predictable consequences of default that will affect every american, americans in every state, of every income level. and more than any, i worry about the working families or those currently out of work who are already struggling through the greatest recession we have known in my lifetime. one report suggests 640,000 people will lose their jobs in the months after default. economists confirm that the cost of home mortgages, of car loans, of interest rates will go up for everything. the cost of food, of gas, of everyday items for families all over this country will go up, in real and concrete ways. and more importantly, if we default on america's mortgage, the impact in terms of the increased cost of borrowing for
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our whole country and for all of our families won't just be brief. it will be lasting because it will hang with us on our credit score as a nation for years. so the -- to the folks watching, if you think it's difficult to find a job or to help grow a business, to help deal with the daily cost of living now, just wait until we default on america's mortgage and the cost of borrowing funds to do anything, to create new jobs or help pay your bills as a family goes up, default will have real and lasting economic consequences that will halt this economy -- haunt this economy and haunt the working families of this nation for years. the second myth, mr. president, that we can just stop spending money without real consequences. some in this very chamber have suggested that when we get to august, there is still plenty of money coming in to service the debt, so there is no real threat of default, and what we need to do is a relatively simple exercise of just deciding which
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things we will stop paying. the second myth goes that the treasury department will just start picking winners and losers. they will pay social security but forgo medicare. they will pay our troops but pink slip our federal civilians. they will fund the pentagon but forget the department of education. never mind the ethical qandaries, the long-term disservice such action would have on our economy and our country. in fact, the truth is it's also not even clear they have the legal authority to do so in the treasury department, to pick these winners and losers on a week-by-week basis. to just choose one example of the studies that have been done on this myth, that we can simply pay the debt service and a few big things and the consequences of the rest would be fine, according to the bipartisan policy center, beginning in august, if we continue to make payments -- obviously, on interest on the debt, but also on social security, medicare, medicaid, all defense contractors and unemployment insurance, so the really important things, and we just
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stop paying the rest. our troops on active duty, all of our veterans' programs, all of law enforcement, including, for example, the f.b.i., the whole federal court system, the f.a.a. which monitors air traffic, the f.d.a. which inspects food quality and safety and a host of dozens and dozens of other federal programs would come to a halt within days. so the consequences to the safety of our families, to the strength of our economy, to the confidence of our country, to our role at home and abroad would in my view be tragic, almost catastrophic. so even if we could avoid technically default for a few days or weeks by continuing to service our debt, the costs and consequences of these other easy choices would be dramatic, difficult and lasting. according to steve mcmillan who was recently quoted on this topic, the former o.m.b. deputy director under president bush. he would say i would say the options treasury has if the debt
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limit is not raised are all very ugly. let me give you a third myth. as i was talking with some small business owners in delaware over the past week, some suggested that they really felt we needed to go ahead, take the tough medicine of defaulting and cut up the president's credit card, stop the president from spending. and while i share their concerns about the very real and very significant threat posed by our deep deficits and share the view that we must cut spending, as all of us who are democrats on the budget committee have said now publicly, we're committed to a balanced approach that significantly cuts federal spending. the metaphor of cutting up the credit cards is wrong. not just wrong. it's desperately wrong and misleading. our nation defaulting on its debt is not like cutting up the credit cards and stopping the future spending. it's much more like defaulting on a mortgage. it hurts our credit rating and hinders our ability to borrow.
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as we have been told before, every one percentage increase in interest rates will cause our national debt to go up up $1.3 trillion over ten years. according to some economists, increased interest rates could last for a decade or more. no, the obligations that come due august 2 are the obligations that have already been undertaken. as senator harkin said before me, it is republican presidents, it is republicans, both president and congress democrats, both president and congress over the last decade who have moved us into a bigger house as a country. it is the cost of two wars, the cast of -- the cost of an expanded medicare part-d, the cost of an expanded investment in our country, the cost of this bigger house that is now coming due. and for us to stop paying that mortgage would have the same consequences for our country as it would for any family because when you default on your mortgage, it's not like cutting up a credit card. it affects your credit rating, it affects your ability to borrow, it affects your ability
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to do anything more for your family for years to come. so, too, would the consequences be for this country, and in my view, we can't afford to let our country become a bad investment. last, some have suggested that august 2 is not a serious deadline, that somehow secretary geithner must have some other rabbit in the hat or some escape hatch. back in january, secretary geithner sent a letter to all of us in congress suggesting we would, in fact, run out of money on may 16 and the government, the treasury department, would then have to start taking extraordinary measures to avoid default. in fact, he detailed in six pages all the extraordinary measures that would be required, and he was right. almost literally to the die about when that transition occurred and when those extraordinary measures needed to be deployed. the time runs out august 2, but if you don't believe the deadlines for some reason presented to us by our very own secretary of the treasury and
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the treasury department, just look at what the three bond rating agencies are already saying about the impending default. moody's, s&p and fitch have all threatened to downgrade america's rating. from aaa, the most secure and stable in the world, s&p suggested last week, to d, to junk bond status. mr. president, i suggest america is not a junk bond nation. it puts us at risk, as a nation, as a people, as an economy. when we are mentioned in the same sentences as ireland, as greece, as italy, as countries currently wrestling with fundamental failures to meet their obligations as a country and we are better than that. all of us in this chamber, all of us, mr. president, are challenged to come together and to put our economy and our country back on solid footing, to restore certainty to the markets, to give confidence to
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retirees, to families raising children, to small businesses about getting serious about putting a plan on this floor next week and passing it. because, frankly, if we allow this country to default on its sovereign debt, to fail to meet its moral commitment, both financial and to the people of the united states, the consequences will be desperate and lasting. mr. president, i suggested a few weeks ago that we should consider seriously the bipartisan policy commission's proposal, so-called save-go which would pick up where the paygo discipline of the 1990's started and modernize it for our current situation. if we cannot get a comprehensive, $4 trillion balanced deal together to this floor and passed, let us at least get a down payment and enforce a budget mechanism that would ensure that comprehensive deal is accomplished over the next decade. save-go which i recommend to everyone in this body would lock
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in savings over the next decade, force both parties to stay at the table and urge us to meet the targets that we all know we need to meet, to reduce our deficits, to stabilize our debt, to strengthen our country and to move past this tragic, narrow debate over august 2 and our nation's mortgage. we need, mr. president, to focus, not on the next election cycle, not on the partisan back and forth that might win one party over another, one person over another advantage in this chamber or the other for 2012, but we need instead to focus on the next generation, on the future. the only way forward, in my view, is to honor our moral commitments as a nation, to the men and women who rely on medicare and medicaid and social security, on the safety of our troops and on the investments we make in the future and to continue to honor our obligations as a nation. to do anything less is to dishonor the sacrifice of those
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who have served us in the past and to ignore the very real needs of the working families all over this country who look to us for leadership and sacrifice to put us on a sustainable path forward. thank you, mr. president. with that, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: officer the senator
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from vermont. mr. sanders: i would vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, we are at a pivotal moment in american history, and i think many americans are confused and perplexed and angry and frustrated as to where we are today and how we got to where we are and what the consequences of
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decisions made in the past or being made right now will mean to their families. let me just take a minute to try to give you my view as to how we ghogot to where we are and whatr options are. as you have just stated, mr. president, and senator harkin before you, anyone who talks blindly about default in saying it is not a big deal for this country clearly does not understand what he or she is talking about. this is the greatest nation in the history of the world. this is a nation whose faith and credit has been the gold standard of countries throughout the world. this is a nation since george washington which has paid out every nickel that it has borrowed, which is in fact why
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it is the great nation that it is and why we have the strongest economy in the world today, troubled though it may be. the idea for some people to simply say, oh, not a big deal, we're not going to pay our debt, mog to reallnothing to really w- those are people who are wishing our economy harm for political reasons, and those are people whose attitudes will have terrible consequences for virtually every working family in this country in terms of higher interest rates, in terms of significant job loss, in terms of making a very unstable global economy even more unstable. this country, which has paid its debts from day one, must pay its debts, and i can't say it
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anymore clearly than that. now, our republican friends, especially our right-wing friends who now control the house of representatives, they have given us an option. and here's their option: what they have said is, we want to do deficit reduction, and this is how we're going to do it. we're going to end medicare as we know it and force elderly people, many of whom don't have the money to pay substantially more for their health care. so when you're 70 under their plan and you get sick and you don't have a whole lot of income, we don't know what happens to you. they forth to tel forget to tel. but what they did forget to tell us is that medicare is not going to be there four. and tholed us that tomorrow if
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their plan was passed you're going to have to pay a heck of a lot more for the prescription drugs you're getting today. oh, you don't have the money? that's not our problem. and they told us we're going to make savage cuts in medicaid, throw millions of kids off the health insurance when 50 million kids have no health insurance today. they want millions more without any health insurance. and if your mom or dad is in a nursing home and that nursing home bill is paid significantly by medicaid and medicaid isn't paying anymore, they forgot to tell us what happens to your mom or dad in that nursing home. what happens? and what happens today if you are unemployed and you're not able to get unemployment extension, what happens if you are a middle-class family desperately trying to send their kids to college and you make savage cuts to pell grants and you can't go to college?
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what does it mean for the nation if we are not bringing forth young people that have the education that they need. they forgot to tell us that. and if one of the growing number of senior citizens in this country who are going hungry, they want to cut nutrition programs. and on and on it goes. every program that has any significance to working families, the sick, the elderly, the children, the poor, they are going to cut, and they are did-to-cut in a savage way, and they are going to do that in the midst of a recession where real unemployment is already at 15% and the middle class is disappearing and poverty is increasing. that's their idea. ands then when you say to them, well, the very, very rich are doing phenomenally well, the top 1% now earns more income en this the bottom 50%. the top 400 wealthiest families in this country own more wealth than the bottom 150 million
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americans. don't you think maybe it's appropriate that when the rich are getting richer, their tax rates have gone down, their effective tax rates are the lowest in modern history, when major corporations are making billions in profits, in some cases not paying a nickel in taxes, don't you think maybe it's fair that they contribute to deficit reduction rather than just the elderly and the sick and working families? and they say, no, we've got a line in the sand, and if it means this country will default on its debt for the first time in history, that's okay. but we are absolutely going to defend the richest people in this country -- millionaires and billionaires -- and make sure they don't pay a nickel more in taxes. we're going to make sure there is no tax reform so we can continue to lose $100 billion every single year because wealthy people and corporations
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stash their money in tax havens in the cayman islands or bermuda, and that's just fine. we'll protect those tax breaks while we savage programs for working families. those are the choices that our right-wing republican friends are giving us. defaults with horrendous economic consequences for working families in this country and in fact for the entire global economy or massive cuts to programs that working families desperately need. well, you know what, mr. president? neither of those options are acceptable to me, and neither are those options acceptable to the vast majority of the people in this country. every single poll that i have seen says that the american people want shared sacrifice. they don't want or believe that
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deficit reduction can simply come down on the backs of the weak and the vulnerable, the elderly, the children, and the poor; that the wealthy and large corporations also have to participate. mr. president, i must also, in all honesty, tell you that i have been disappointmented by the president's role in these discussions and some of his ideas. he has brought forth and idea which i categorically reject, that we should make significant cuts in social security, that when someone reesms the age of 85 -- when someone reaches the age of 85, they would lose $1,000 as opposed to what they would have otherwise gotten. this senator is not going to balance our budget on the backs of an 85-year-old person who's earning $14,000 a year, not with my vote.
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and this senator does not agree with the president that we raise eligibility age for medicare from 65 to 67, because i don't know what happens to millions of people who have worked their whole lives, finally reach 65 anticipating medicare but it's not going to be there for them. so i very strongly disagree with the president on those initiatives. mr. president, let me just tell you that elections have consequences. and i think many people now are beginning to catch on to that. it is no secret that our right-wing republican colleagues did very well in november 2010. they captured the house of representatives, and now a year-plus later, for the first time in the history of this country, we are on the verge of a default.
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so i would close by saying to people all over this country is that if you believe that we have got to start investing in america and creating the millions of jobs that this country desperately needs, elections have consequences. and if you believe that we have to address the deficit crisis in a way that is responsible, in a way that asks the wealthy and large corporations also to play a role, in a way, as senator harkin mentioned a meement ago, that calls for cuts in defense spending and bringing our troops home as soon as possible from afghanistan and iraq, you have got to be involved in the political process. in my view -- in my view -- a group of people in the house whose views represent a small minority of the american people
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are holding this congress hostage. and it is time for the american people to stand up and say, enough is enough; the function of the united states congress is to represent all of our people and not just the wealthiest and mod powerful. and -- and most powerful. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor today as someone who is
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back in my home state every weekend. as i talk to people and say what's on your mind, they say what's on their mind are jobs, the economy, the nation's debt and the nation's spending. i say what do you think about things going on in washington? they say the problem with washington is tax is too much, -- taxes too much, borrows too much and the government grows bigger every day. and they say what are we going to do about it? when we talk about the debt, the people of wyoming have a clear understanding that the number is very, very large. and they say well, what about the budget? as we get into the discussion, it comes down to what budget, where is the budget? it has been 800 days since the budget has gone through this body, over 800 days.
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you're talking more than two years. why is that? i think there was a vote on the budget earlier this year that was the president's so-called budget, lost 97-0. not even one democrat voted for what the president had proposed. the magazine, the news magazine "the economist" called it a dishonest budget. you know, in wyoming, we balance our budget every year. we don't have a debt like the country has, the country with its $14 trillion debt. in wyoming, the debt is zero because year after year, we balance our budget, live within our means, spend only what comes in and actually have money left over that we can invest in the people of our state. and it's because from the beginning when the constitution of our state was written, included right there in the constitution is a component that says that you shall balance the budget every year. don't spend more than we have coming in.
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so to do that, one of the most useful things is that there actually be a budget, be a budget, something to live within, something to look to as a guidepost, as a road map. i'm still looking for one in this body, madam president. where is it? why haven't we seen one? so that's why i am coming to the floor today with a number of my colleagues to say what is going on that it's been over 800 days, no budget, no opportunity to have the american people look to a road map to see where the country is headed. we hear all the discussion about the fact that are we -- are we headed to a default? what about the debt limit? what about the ceiling? is that going to be raised. they say what's the plan, what's the spending plan, what's the savings plan? i don't hear one coming forth from the majority party.
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i don't see one from the majority leader, i don't see one from the budget committee, i don't see one from the president. they are having discussions at the white house about how to try to get spending under control. i say where is the president's plan? what i hear from the president is he wants to raise taxes. and the people of wyoming would say the best way for more revenue to come in is not raise taxes on the people who are working. it's put some of those 9.2 million americans -- i'm sorry. 9.2% of americans who are looking for work, put them to work and then that money will come in as they pay taxes. so i come today to the floor, madam president, with a number of my colleagues, nor sessions, the senator from alabama has arrived, and -- and i snow that we're going to be engaged in a colloquy to discuss some of these issues, but i'll tell you we ought to be focusing on these 9.2% of americans who can't find
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work or millions and millions of americans looking for jobs. when i talk to the job creators, they are saying it's the president's position and his policies that have made matters worse, made matters worse with increasing health care costs as a result of the health care law, made matters worse as a result of the regulations coming out of washington that add additional costs onto businesses, and making it worse in increased energy costs as the president continues to send energy jobs overseas as he makes it harder and harder to explore for american energy. and so, madam president, i would ask my colleague, senator sessions, to give us his thoughts, if i could, on the concerns that we face as a nation without a budget, without a plan, without a road map at a time of astronomical, astronomical deficit, huge numbers, numbers that are too high for people to even
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understand and comprhend. mr. sessions: i appreciate senator barrasso and his leadership on so many issues in this senate. it is a sad event that we are now filing an objection to the movement of a appropriations bill because it violates the budget act contained in the united states code, and the budget act says you shall not move forward with a appropriations bill if you haven't first passed a budget. so i guess my friend from wyoming, an accomplished orthopedic surgeon and physician , and his experience in the legislature and his state, does it strike him that when you're in the most serious debt crisis perhaps the nation has
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ever had from a structural, systemic point of view, that we ought to follow the law, we ought to first decide how much money we can afford to spend next year and then allocate that money to the various spending appropriations committees so that they can produce a plan that would live within that budget. is that the commonsense way that we should proceed? mr. barrasso: madam president, i would say absolutely yes. if you're a family in wyoming -- and i don't care if you're living in casper or you're living in kemer, either way you know you need to live within some construct of how much is coming in, how much can you spend, live within a budget. families have budgets. they live within their budgets. the state of wyoming has a budget. we have a balanced budget component of our constitution. so it not only says we have to have a budget, it says we have to balance it. and if you don't have a budget
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to begin with, i can't understand how you can balance it and so is it any surprise that we are $14 trillion in debt and we're borrowing $4 billion a day, $2 million a minute in this country, and we're borrowing a lot of it from china. it just seems we ought to be following the law, having a budget and then living within the budget, and it needs to be a responsible budget consistent with what's coming in. mr. sessions: i know we appreciate our colleagues who worked on this bill, but it has much, much more appropriations that should be done this year, and how can they be continued without a budget. you say well, we spent within the president's numbers or the house numbers, but those have not been approved in the senate. we have no votes in the senate. it's not a binding number, and
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the truth is what we need to do is what the house did, i believe. senator barrasso, isn't it true that the republican house with a new leadership came in, they faced up to the ten-year budget window that we have, they laid out a plan for ten years. it cut spending by $6 trillion, it actually simplified our tax code substantially and reduced certain taxes, focusing on tax reductions that create growth so we could have more income generated, and whether you agree with it or not by april 15, they did all this, which is what this code says. don't you think they have done their duty? what would you say about the senate's failure to even attempt to produce a budget. mr. barrasso: the house has
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presented a budget, debated a budget, passed a budget. nothing in the senate for over 800 days. people tell me over the weekends you have to stop spending money we don't have, stop spending money we don't have. they say we expect better, we expect better of those who are elected to go to washington and represent us. we expect better. and the thing they also believe is that of the money that they're spending -- that they're sending to washington -- it's their money. it's not washington's money, it's their money. the money that they're sending to washington, people don't believe they are getting value for their dollar. if you said of every dollar you send in, how much value are you getting back? it's at an all-time low, less than 50 cents on the dollar people think they are getting value. people want efficient government, effective government. that's not what they are finding today. they are seeing amazing amounts of waste and fraud and abuse, but fundamentally they are not seeing a budget, a road map from which to make a plan and then live within that.
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and that's why i come to the senate floor with my colleague today from alabama to say the law is specific, not just in the state of wyoming but also in the united states that we need to have a budget. mr. sessions: well, the law is specific and the need is there whether we had a law or not. the law doesn't require families to have budgets, but families that are smartly managing their money have budgets. small businesses -- businesses have budgets. no law requires them to have budgets because it's the only way to manage your money. and it's really a -- an unacceptable situation we find ourselves in. senator barrasso, let me ask you this, and i want to try to boil it down to the nub of why we don't -- we haven't done it. why the majority in the senate has not proceeded with a budget.
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and let me just say that a budget is considered so important that unlike other legislation, it can be passed with a simple majority. it cannot be filibustered. it has priority process to be moved rapidly on the floor. it can't be blocked. and so the goal is that you could pass a budget, even a party if they wanted to do it on a straight party-line basis with over 50 votes to pass a budget. and so i guess i'm trying to focus on is there something broken about the senate? is there something broken that causes us not to be effective? is there something broken in the way we operate that would have kept the budget committee from bringing a budget forward and voting on it in committee and passing it out of committee?
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they did that last year. is there any reason that the senator can think of a substantive nature that would have blocked that? mr. barrasso: i would only say the reason i know is that someone intentionally doesn't want to bring a budget to the floor of the united states senate, because if a budget were on the floor of the united states senate, then we would look through it, read it, people at home could look through it, have some input, call, write, talk to us at town hall meetings, say you know we ought to try to amend this proposal to spend less money over here, more money over there, try to decide the best way to -- to work together as a nation to improve opportunities for people in this country. i mean, that's what a family budget does, whether they have to -- they don't have to by law but smart families do that. they make plans, they think ahead. not just three months, six months. families look ahead to college,
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they think about will they need a new car, new roof at some point down the line, what will they need. that's what budgeting is all about. so i see no why there isn't a budget proposed by the majority party here on the floor for all of the country to take a look at, all of the country to say yeah, change this, more here, less there, reprioritize and let the country work. mr. sessions: if the senator would yield, unless you're unwilling to tell the american people where you stand, unwilling to put real numbers on paper. you ought to -- you prefer to say well, american people, don't worry about it, we are meeting in secret over here. don't worry about it, we have got the vice president, he calls some senators together, he's going to fix it. oh, now, the president is meeting in secret. i hear he stomped out of the meeting yesterday when some questions were asked, but -- so we're going to take care of it.
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you guys that serve on committees and the finance committee where taxes have to be voted on, should be voted on, you guys are no longer relevant, the system's broken, don't worry about it, we're going to take care of it. that's what they are saying. they're saying we're not going to go along with it. it's not because it won't work. it's because the budget presented, the only budget we've seen here was presented by the president. it increased taxes substantially. it increased spending even more than that. and it increased the debt more than if we had done nothing over the ten years. so i see our colleague, senator toomey, a new senator but not new to the budget process because he was a member of the budget committee in the house. so i guess what i'm frustrated about, and i believe people should be unhappy about, this
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decision, this policy decision by the leadership in the senate that it was foolish to produce a budget is not a sign that the senate is broken. it's a sign that the leadership is broken. it's a sign the leadership does not have the courage to stand before the american people and produce a plan because it either would raise taxes too much, not cut spending too much or raise the debt too much. and i think that's irresponsible. but i have to say senator toomey, a new member of our senate, he's produced a budget. he laid it out right in our committee, and he was prepared as a member of our committee to produce his budget and advocate for it. and you know what happened? we didn't meet.
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i can't call the committee into session. i'm the ranking republican. senator toomey can't call the committee into session and have a vote. they decided not to meet, not to do their duty. and they're going to meet in secret somewhere and have their little discussions about what they want to do. and the people who are elected to be accountable to the american people for what we do with their money are just standing around wondering what's happening. forgive me if i'm not happy. i don't think it's right. i think it's weakening the united states senate. i believe our constitutional responsibility is not being fulfilled if we end up with some big-deal big on august 1, and we're told it's got to be passed by august 2, and you can find out what's in it after we pass it. i'm not there.
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count me out. senator toomey, we had more people wanting to get on the budget committee this year. they were so excited. it was the most wanted committee to be on in the entire senate, and we've not done anything. you were selected to be on the committee, which is a tribute to your experience. i guess i would ask you, how do you feel about where we are? mr. toomey: senator sessions, first of all, thank you for raising this issue because i do think this is a very, very important issue. many of us wanted to be on the budget committee because we see what a critical moment our country is in. we see the very dire straits that we have put ourselves in because of the fiscal irresponsibility of washington. and some of us believe that we don't have a lot of time to get this in order. and so i was looking forward to the opportunity to serve on the committee that would design the blueprint for our entire fiscal policy for this year and
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hopefully beyond. i think this is a fundamental responsibility, frankly, of any -- a responsible organization to have a budget. i ran a small business for years, my own little business. we always had a budget. the corner pizza shop has a budget. we are the biggest enterprise in the world, the united states government. we spend $3.26 trillion. and for the majority party to choose really, toeuf say cynically -- i have to say cynically, to choose not to write a budget, to abdicate that fundamental responsibility, to lay out for the american people how much money they want to spend, on what they want to spend it, on where the money is going to come from, to abdicate that responsibility is really shocking. but of course to make matters worse, they have a statutory obligation to do this, so it's actually also illegal. and here we are without a budget. we're about to run out of this
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year's funding. when we come back from the august break, we're going to be passing some huge omnibus. who knows what's in that. whaoef a completely -- we have a completely broken-down process. about this debt limit issue, because we had a discussion today in the banking committee, the federal reserve chairman bernanke was there to testify. it was a useful discussion. unfortunately, after i left the committee, i learned later that senator schumer began to discuss some of my remarks with chairman bernanke. and in the process, he grossly mischaracterized what i said. i'm quite sure that senator schumer would never intentionally mischaracterize the remarks of one of his colleagues. so what i'd like to do is just clarify what was actually said so in the future it won't be mischaracterized. i had observed that the treasury will have more than enough cash coming in in the form of tax
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receipts to pay the interest on our debt in the event that we didn't raise the debt ceiling on august 2. i immediately went on to say, and i will now quote myself, if you will allow. i said i don't know of anybody that suggests that we can or should go indefinitely without raising the debt ceiling. and i have argued that we would certainly be much better off reaching an agreement and raising the debt ceiling prior to august 2. end quote. that was characterized by senator schumer as follows -- and i will quote him. he said, "for a smart guy" -- he was referring to phaoerbgs believe it or not -- referring to me, believe it or not, to say we can pay the obligations, and forget the rest, that's fine. i'm surprised at it. i never said it was just fine. what i have said is that we've got a dire crisis on our hands and we need to do something about it, and i don't know that
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we're going to get another opportunity than the opportunity over this question of whether and when and by how much we'll raise the debt limit. but i'm not going to sit by idly and i'm not going to go along with some deal that raises the debt limit without making the real cuts in spending we need and the real process reform. so senator sessions, as you know, some of us have advocated that there be a simple deal, if you will, preferly one that we would discuss in public, one we'd have a debate over, one we'd have a vote on. the deal is simply this. we will agree to raise the debt limit by the full amount the president has requested, provided only that the president agree to put us on a path to a balanced budget. that's it. we call it cut, cap, and balance. it has some immediate cuts. it has spending caps that put us on that path to a balanced budget. and it calls for the adoption of a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. we have a democratic president named william clinton who
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together with the republican congress in the 1990's acknowledged the importance of reaching a balanced budget. none of us think we can do it overnight. none of us are calling for that. but back then in the 1990's they decided they would strive for it and in fact they achieved it. we reached a balanced budget and a modest surplus. all i'm asking today as we confront this issue and as we contemplate saddling ourselves and our kids and grandkids with still more debt than the record level we have now, what i'm suggesting is that at the same time we take the measures necessary to get us out of this mess, to prevent us from going farther down this unsustainable path and to get to the point where we don't continue running deficits, a path to a balanced budget, cut spending now, statutory spending caps and a balanced budget. we now have a big majority of republican senators who have cosponsored this bill that would raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, provided that we get these changes.
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and i'm increasingly optimistic that the house might very well pass a bill that would raise the debt limit contingent only on 0 this path to a balanced budget. so while we're down here today, i think this is what we ought to be talking about. we shouldn't go on to an appropriations bill that has no context because there's been no budget. we ought to be focused on getting this problem solved and then get back to the regular order of having a budget that defines the level of spending and where that money is going to come from and allows us to pursue the ordinary appropriation process so that we can exercise our constitutional responsibility to control the purse strings of this federal government. senator sessions, i thank you for raising this issue. this is a very important issue, and i agree with you wholeheartedly that it's a travesty that we don't have a budget in this body. i certainly hope we don't go farther down this path. mr. sessions: well, i thank the senator from pennsylvania. he's been such a fabulous
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addition to the committee, talented and experienced, and he's worked so hard that he's actually laid out a budget himself. the president has 500 people. the congress here has a lot of staffers. senator toomey has produced a budget. the house has produced a budget but we haven't seen one here. i'm pleased that my colleague, another member of the budget committee, senator ron johnson, is here. he's a businessperson who traveled his state and talked with his constituents about his concerns about the debt this country faces. senator johnson, i'm pleased to hear your thoughts at this time. mr. johnson: thanks, senator sessions. first of all, thank you for your leadership on this issue. you know i share your concern about the dysfunction of not only this body, our budget committee, but really washington in general. i mean, washington is broken. we are currently conducting business as usual here in
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washington is bankrupting our nation. certainly having spent 34 years as a manufacturer, senator, i recognize that you have to have a good process if you're going to have a good product. and because our process here is so broken, that's one of the reasons we're bankrupting this nation, because we don't have a good process. it is, to me, unbelievable, sir, that in the united states senate we haven't passed a budget now in, what is it, 805 or 806 days. over two years we have not passed a budget yet in this body. as an accountant -- that's my background -- i've had to produce budgets on time for a wide variety of sizes of businesses. and it's simply unbelievable to me when i know how hard individuals and businesses work to produce a budget. and, by the way, they generally present those budgets on time. they don't miss the budget dates. but they actually produce a budget, and there's an awful lot
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of work that goes into those things. and then i come here after 34 years in business, i come to the united states senate understanding, not because i wanted to be a united states senator, sir, because i realize we're bankrupting this nation, that america is in peril. and i get here, and i hope to be on the budget committee so i can actually start solving this problem. i get on the budget committee, and i'm ready to roll up my shirt sleeves and start working on the problem. and what do we hold? i think six hearings on the president's budget, a budget that was so unserious that it lost in this body 0-97. not one member of the president's own party thought it was serious enough, or maybe it didn't spend quite enough for them. maybe it didn't tax enough for them. but for whatever reason, not one member of the president's own party decided to vote for that budget. i think that's a stunning repudiation. it's very disappointing, quite
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honestly. right now, as our country faces bankruptcy, we are hungry for leadership, and we're not getting any. the fact of the matter is if the president really was serious about addressing this issue, if he was serious about attacking this problem, he would have been coming to us months ago to negotiate in good faith to prevent the bankrupting of america. but that hasn't happened. so what's happening now? for the last few weeks we've been holding some secret meetings, far from the view of the american public. i'm not sure, is that really how we're going to solve the financial future of america? i came here to work. i came here to be engaged in debate. i was hoping we would have a very open process under general order, but that's not what's happening. what i'm afraid is we're going to end waup deal that's going -- up with a deal that's going to be dropped in our laps with a
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few days to go -- kind of like the health care lawmakers kind of like dodd-frank, no time to review and you start seethe unintended consequences of it. i think that is a real shame. i just came from a press conference where every member of the freshman class, we had a meeting this morning. we were talking about what can we do. we all came here in a very sincere desire to actually solve the problem. and one of the things we talked about is how president obama now, rather than being serious about this, rather than really tackling the problem, he's beginning to scare seniors and members of our military. we thought that was over the line. we sent a letter to the president today asking him to please step up to the plate, seriously address the problem. stop scaring our seniors. work with us. we want to help you solve the problem. thank you, senator. mr. sessions: thank you, senator johnson. i thank you for your great tkpwraoufp freshman senators -- group of freshman senators who
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have added so much common sense to our problem. we were not elected to preside over the financial decline of america. we were not elected to skirt the law. we were not elected to shut down committees, to shut down debate, to see our constitutional responsibility to secret meetings and closed-door proceedings.y we were elected to do our duty, and there is no higher duty than to protect the american people from a clear and present danger. for that reason, i will oppose cloture on today's appropriations bill. i will vote to sustain the budgetary point of order, and i will encourage my colleagues to support my amendment raising that budget poured to a threshold of 60 votes. this is all in the beginning of our fight -- this is only the beginning of our fight. there will be more votes, more objections, more points of order. working with my colleagues, i will give all that i have to
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help put this country back on a sound, honest, solid financial path. washington must recognize that america's strength does not lie in the size of our government but in the scope of our freedoms and in the hearts of our people. the debt we have today is already pulling down our economic growth. experts tell us we have lost 1% of economic growth because our debt exceeds 90% of our total economy, 90% of g.d.p. well, it's 95% of g.d.p. right now. we'll reach 100% of g.d.p. by the end of this year. that alone reduces growth, according to the experts. secretary of treasury geithner said he thought that was an excellent study that found that fact. and what does 1% growth mean? well, instead of the first quarter having 1.8% or 2%
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growth, we would have had 3% growth. if we had had 3% growth instead of 2% growth, one million more jobs would be added per year based on just alteration of the difference between 2% growth and 3% growth. we have got to face these problems. i hope our colleagues are reaching a decision about how to proceed that can be successful. we have got to make progress this year. we're going to have to sustain progress for a decade. if we do so, we will put this country on a right path, and if we get that debt down, it's not too hard to do it, really, we'll start seeing our growth come back and jobs be created, more wealth be created, more taxes be paid, less help to people poor and in need because they are now working when they weren't. so, madam president, i thank the chair, appreciate the
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opportunity to share these remarks and would yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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mr. sessions: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i would ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: i would ask unanimous consent that it be in order for me to offer and receive a vote on an amendment to this bill which relates to a 303-c point of order that requires adoption of a budget resolution prior to the consideration of any appropriation bills. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. johnson: mr. president, the amendment is not germane to the
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bill. i am trying to keep this bill bipartisan and free of extraneous matters. therefore, i object. the presiding officer: objection's heard. mr. sessions: madam president, i would yield the floor. mr. johnson: mr. president, there is a cloture motion at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that -- clerk: we, the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 2 of the standing rules of the senate hereby bring to -- under section 303 of the congressional budget act of 1974 for h.r. 2055, any amendments thereto and motions thereon signed by 17 senators as follows. reid of nevada, johnson of south dakota, kirk, durbin, hagan,
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bennet, warner, kerry, bingaman, udall of colorado, murray, leahy and whitehouse. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that all time be yielded back. the presiding officer: without objection. the question is -- by unanimous consent the -- the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to waive the points of order under section 303 of the congressional budget act of 1974 for h.r. 2055, any amendments thereto and motions thereon. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is is it the sense of the senate that debate on the motion to waive the points of
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order under section 303 of the congressional budget act for h.r. 2055 and any amendments or motions thereto shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule, and the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: on this vote, the yeas are 71, the nays are 26. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: madam president? madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: madam president, could we have order. mr. reid: madam president, could we have order. madam president? madam president, i'm giving fair warning to everyone. we've gotten very nonchalant about coming to vote. we're going -- we have an extra five minutes and we're not going to extend that in the future. it's not fair to everyone else who gets here on time. so everyone is on notice, we're going to cut the votes off at 20 minutes. people come straggling in eight, ten minutes late. that's not going to work
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anymore. it will affect democrats and republicans. okay. this will be the last vote of this week. we will more than likely be in session tomorrow. there will be no votes tomorrow. if there are people who want to offer amendments, the two managers of this bill, senator johnson and kirk, are here. they're here tonight. we have -- this vote coming up will be the last vote of the week. the presiding officer: the question's on the motion to waive. the yeas and nays? a senator: can we have the yeas and nays, please. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber who wish to vote or change their vote? on this vote the yeas are 56. the nays are 40. the motion to waive is agreed to. a senator: move to reconsider. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from illinois. a senator: i move to waive -- [inaudible] the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii is recognized. mr. inouye: madam president, i'm pleased -- the presiding officer: could we please have order for the senator from hawaii. the senator from hawaii. mr. inouye: i'm pleased that we're beginning consideration of
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fy 2012 military construction and veterans affairs bill. madam president, this bill was passed out by the committee on appropriations by unanimous vote of 30-0, and it is the hope of the committee that such strong bipartisan support will continue as the full senate debates this measure and that we'll be able to consider germane amendments in a reasonable period of time, pass the bill and move on to a conference with the house. as we continue to debate the larger fiscal challenges our nation faces, i would like to note that the level of funding in the senate mark of this milcon v.a. bill is consistent with the level of funding in the house-passed measure. i'd like to thank chairman johnson and vice chairman kirk for their brilliant work in
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producing the bill that provides essential support to our veterans, our active-duty military and their families. the resources provided in this bill will fund vital construction projects and will ensure that our wounded veterans and warriors receive the excellent care they deserve. madam president, it's good to note that we are moving the first of our fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill under regular order. as i've said on numerous occasions, the best way to ensure that every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely is to move our 12 bills through the committee, the full senate, conference with the house and through final passage in both chambers. our ability to work together on this important bill serves as a reminder that bipartisan compromise can be achieved by
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the united states congress even in the most difficult of budget environments. it is my hope that the spirit of bipartisanship embodied in this bill will serve as a model for the remaining fy 2012 appropriations project. so i wish to congratulate chairman johnson and vice chairman kirk for their efforts, and i look forward to returning to the floor at the earliest possible date for the next appropriations measure. madam president, i thank you, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: madam president, let me thank the distinguished senator from hawaii for his kind words about the management of this bill. i want to join him in his congratulations to the two managers. we appreciate their hard work. the committee had extensive hearings and review of all the
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appropriations bills that we're going to be taking up in a public hearing process, open for comments, opportunities for people to express their views. and they've done that in a diligent and careful and responsible manner. i think it's a credit to the senate that we have passed this bill today. we look forward to continuing to work our way through all of the appropriations bills that come under the jurisdiction of the committee. i especially want to thank my friend from hawaii for his leadership. mr. inouye: madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from illinois is recognized. mr. kirk: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call and move as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. kirk: madam president, i wanted to rise while we're waiting for authors of their amendments to come to the floor on the point of personal business to eulogize one of my mentors in politics.
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state representative betty lou reed died this week and she was somebody that many of us in northern illinois looked up to. betty lou reed served from her home community of deerfield, illinois. she knew senator everett dirksen well and helped out in his campaigns for re-election, and she was someone that practiced the art of politics from the fiscally conservative side but the ideological center. she was someone who was a role model for many of us at the township, at the state and especially at the federal level. i first met her after she had retired from our state legislature in springfield, illinois. when she served as the district director for congressman john porter. i remember on a long visit in
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which she was showing me the congressional district where i grew up in from a political point of view, and as we passed by the zion nuclear reactor, she said whatever your feelings from college, buddy boy, here we're pro nuclear power, and began to introduce me to the politics especially of lake county, illinois. betty lou reed was someone who liked to drink her bourbon and branch water, as she called it, regularly in the evening, telling old war stories about how things were done in springfield, illinois. she was always kind, considerate, and i never really heard a swear word from her ever, despite the rough language that's used both in springfield and in chicago. her husband was a staunch supporter of hers and always available for the -- the continuous set of parades and public meetings that she went
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through. she guided us especially in the consideration of the first base closure and realignment committee in which fort sheridan, illinois, next to her home district was the poster child, given its high value and golf course next to lake michigan for disposal. we went through a number of proposals like bringing in a prison or homeless shelters, et cetera, but finally came to a mutually agreed upon solution of a set of public buildings, parks and additions to lake forest, highwood and highland park. probably her greatest legacy was in supporting and teaching a young congressman from our area, congressman john porter, the ropes and guiding him through difficult elections and tough partisan times. i served as congressman porter's chief of staff while she, as she put it, garnered the real votes back home and took care of
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business. betty lou lost her husband a while ago and passed away this week. many of us in northern illinois remember her, not just as a trusted public official and congressional staff member but as someone who taught us the ropes and taught us the ropes even from chicagoland of how to exercise the art of politics, maybe more gently and with better language than our predecessors. i very much will miss betty lou reed. i know congressman porter shares this, as many of his staff and political families of northern illinois. and i wanted to take this moment today in the senate to mark her passing and say how very much we will miss her. with that, madam chairwoman, i yield back and would once again suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding
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